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Cornell University Library 
BR136.G7 V38 

3 1924 029 242 604 


Cornell University 

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A Record of some Post-Reformation Usages in the 
English Church, now mostly Obsolete 



" Many precious rites 
And customs of our rural ancestry 
Are gone, or stealing Irom us." 


" We must not quarrel for a blot or two. 
But pardon equally to books and men 
The slips of human nature, and the pen." 





[77/i? Rights of Translation and of Reproduction are Reserved?^ 





At the outset I must ask those who are good enough to 
read this book to understand distinctly that its contents 
are merely intended for the amusement, and perhaps for 
the information, of the ordinary public, and that they are 
in no sense addressed to scientific antiquaries. 

When I began to search systematically into the local 
religious habits and customs of the past, the extent over 
which the subject reached was quite unknown to me. It 
was arranged with the publishers that the book should be 
but small in size in order that its price might be such as 
would suit the general body of church folk who would be 
likely to be interested in the subjects with which it deals. 

But herein has lain a difficulty. The very large quantity 
•of matter which came to hand has rendered the task of 
selection somewhat puzzling. This difficulty, I fear, has 
been but imperfectly met. 

Everybody will see that, in this small volume, the fringe 
only of the subject dealt with has been touched ; yet, as an 
item in the history of religion in England, such matter, if 
more fully recorded, would seem to be by no means unim- 
portant. If those who read the volume agree with this 
last statement, I venture to ask them to help towards an 
amplification of this book in case a second edition should be 
called for, by sending to me descriptions of any curious 
local Church customs, obsolete or otherwise, which may be 
known to them. 


In this connection I may add that, in dealing with such 
a variety of material, I cannot guarantee that, in all cases, 
accuracy has been secured. I shall be grateful to any 
reader who discovers a positive error in what I have stated 
as a matter of fact, if he will inform me of it, and I 
shall be pleased to correct it if I have the opportunity 
of doing so. 

It will be noticed that~a large portion of this volume 
consists of matter which has been sent to me by private 
correspondents as distinguished from the items which have 
been gathered from published sources. To all such con- 
tributors, known and unknown, I beg to tender my warm 
thanks. There are some, however, who in one way or 
another have rendered me so much help that I feel bound 
to accord to them a more direct expression of gratitude. 
I would specially mention Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite, F.S.A., 
and the Revs. W. J. Frere, Bowyer Vaux, and Edgar 

The readers of the Newbery House Magazine in 1892 
will recognize some portions of the contents of this volume 
as having appeared in the pages of that periodical. 

J. E. V. 

Crondall, Hants, 
December, 1893. 

P.S. — When too late for correction I see that the ex- 
pression " under the gallows " with reference to a convict 
(page 63), must simply mean that he communicated on 
the morning of his execution. 




Profanation of Churches, 1.— St. Paul's Walk, 1.— Dining with Duke 
Humphrey, 2. — Uses to which Church Naves put, 2. — Church Ales, 
4. — Sabbath and Sunday, 6.— Clerk Ales, 6.— Bride Ales, 7.— 
The Boy Bishop, 7. — Eton Montem, 8. — Blasphemous Plays in 
Churches, 9. — Curious Survival at St. Ives, 10. — Nomination in 
Church of Candidates for Parliament, 10. — Ancient Pews, 11. — 
Pew Quarrels, 11. — Churches without Seats, 12. — Appropriation of 
Seats in the Past, 13. — Alley and Aisle, 14. — Pews in Village 
Churches, 14. — Dean Swift on Pews, 15. — A Dog Pew, 15. — Dogs 
at Mass, 15. — Bishop Corbet on Luxurious Pews, 16. — Refresh- 
ments brought in during Service, 17. — Flapping the Church, 17. — 
Clipping the Church, 18. — Dancing in Churchyard, 19. — Baal 
Worship, 20.— "Sanctuary" Privileges, 22.— Frith Stool, 22.— 
Refuge in Church Porch, 24. 



Separation of Sexes, 28. — Its Principle maintained yet with varied 
Practice, 30. — Curious Arrangement at Durham Cathedral, 31. — 
Portable Stools used in Church, 31. — Bowing to the Altar, 32. — ■ 
Misconceived by late Prince Consort, 35. — Private Prayers before 
Service, 36.— Archbishop Wake on Respect paid to Inanimate 
Things, 36. — Kneeling at Verse in Venite, 37. — Bowing at the 
Gloria, etc., 38. — Kneeling during Psalm cl., 38. — Turning to East 
at Creed, 38. — Bowing at mention of the Holy Name, 39. — Turn- 
ing to East at Gloria, 40. — Kneeling when Lord's Prayer read 
in Lesson, 40. — Standing when Scriptural Canticles or Angelic 


Salutation read in Lesson, 40.— Kneeling at Ascription after Ser- 
mon, 41.— Standing at the Entrance of Clergy and Municipal 
Officials, 41.— Bowing to Churchyard Cross, 41.— Bare Heads in 
Churchyard on Club Feast Day, 41.— Daily Service, 42.— Bishops 
Sprat, Turner, and Patrick on Daily Service, 42.— High Church 
Reaction under Queen Anne, 44.— " Pietas Londinensis," 44 — 
Wednesday and Friday Services, 45.— William Law's Friday Din- 
ner Parties, 45.— Observance of Lent, 45.— Curates only Saying 
Prayers, 46.— The " Singing Psalms," Old and New Versions, 46. 
" Authorised" Hymns, 48.— Words Read Out Line by Line, 48. — 
Some of Tate and Brady's Psalms still in Use, 49.— Hat- Wearing 
in Church, 49.— Spirit Drinking Encouraged by William III., 50. 
— Pre-Reformation Hat- Wearing even at Elevation of Host, 50. — 
The Spectator, Guardian, and Examiner on Irreverence in Church, 
50. — The Fans and Sofa Cushions in American Church in Paris, 
51. — Young's Satirical Description of Ladies in Church, 51. 



D lily Celebration intended in Post-Reformation Church, 53. — Mis- 
chievous Return of Marian Exiles, 53. — Quarterly Communion, 
54. — Bishops Cosin and Overall on Frequent Eucharists, 54. — 
George Herbert on Frequency of Celebrations, 53. — Practice of 
Bishop Andrewes, 55. — Celebrations now in City Churches, 55. — 
Bishops Bull, Sherlock, and Beveridge regretted Infrequency of 
Eucharists, 56. — Bishop Tomline's Complaint at fewness of Com- 
municants at St. Paul's, 56. — The Chasuble and the Cope, 56. — 
The Principle of the Eucharistic Vestments, 57. — Names of Com- 
municants to be previously Signified, 57. — Communicating Fast- 
ing, 57. — Daily Celebrations, 59. — Early Celebrations in Olden 
Days, 61. — Communicants going up to Altar at words, "Ye that 
do truly, etc.," 62. — Non-Communicating Attendance, 62. — Puritan 
Arrangement of Altar Rails, 62.— -Sexes Communicating separately, 
63. — Communicating " Under the Gallows," 63. — People Kneeling 
throughout Communion Service, 64. — A whole Congregation Com- 
municating, 64.— Huge Flagons at Minsterley, Salop, 64. — Altar 
Arrangements in Channel Islands, 65.— Eastward Position, 65. — 
Servers at Altar, 66. — Men Standing during Communion Service 
06. — Priest going to Chancel Step to read Gospel, 66. — Men 
Standing during Sermon, 67. — Modes of Collecting Offertory, 67. 
Sums Given, 67. — Counting Offertory at Lichfield, 68. — Sanctus 
Bell, 69.— "O Lamb of God," etc., and "Blessed is he," etc. 


before and after Consecration, 69. — The Mixed Chalice, 69. — 
Methodists careful that their Services shall not clash with Church 
Services, 70. — Methodists and Congregationalists Communicating 
in Church, 70. — The Houselling Cloth, 70. — Curious Usage at 
Exeter Cathedral, 73. — Communicants Tokens, 73. 



First Water thought Lucky in Ireland, 74. — Oatcake Sewn in Infants 
Clothes, 74. — Barbarous Custom in North Scotland, 74.— Child 
Born with Open Hands Significant, 75. — Gifts to Infants, 75. — 
Child Crying when Baptised Lucky, 75. — Reception into the 
Church at Lyme Regis, 75. — Trine Affusion, 75. — Odd Christian 
Names, 76 — Boys to be Baptised before Girls, 76. — Boy engaged 
to be the first to meet Infant when starting for Church, 77. — 
The Christening Palm, 78. — Christening Ornaments, 78. — Offerings 
to Baptised Infants, 78. — Baptising Infant over Coffin of Deceased 
Mother, 79. — Baptism by Immersion, 80. — Wells for Immersion 
in Churches, 80. — Canon Cadman's Description of a Baptism by 
Immersion, 81. — Baptising in Rivers in Wales, 82. — Private 
Baptisms, 82. — Bishop Bull on these, 82. — Fees for Baptisms, 83. — 
Stamp Duty on Registration of Baptism, 83. — Baptism of Blacka- 
moor Servants, 84. — A Woman Enceinte not to be Sponsor, 84. — 
Churching Women in Private Houses, 84. — Dean Comber's Opin- 
ion, 84. — The Churching Vaile, 86. — Place occupied by Women 
when Churched, 86. — Local Notions relative to Churching, 87. — 
I egistering Churchings, 88. — Catechising in Eighteenth Century, 
88.— Catechising at Eton, 89. 



Seasons when Marriage was Prohibited, 90. — Doggerel Lines on the 
above in Church Register, 91.— Unlucky to Marry a Man with 
same Initial to Surname, 91. — Banns of Marriage, 91. — Customs 
connected with their Publication, 92. — "God speed them well," 
93.— Clerk "Blessing the Couple,'' 94.— Scorning (he Church, 94. 
—Bidding Letters in Wales, 94.— Gifts at Welsh Marriages, 95. 
— Parisian Bidding Letters, 96. — Part of Church for the 
Beginning of the Service, 97.— How Old Usages Die Out, 
99. — Purse with the Ring placed on Officiant's Book, 99.— 
The Morgengabe, 100. — Officiant expected to Kiss the Bride, 100. 


—Race Home from Church to get a Kiss, 100.— Health Drinking 
on Road Home, 100.— Dry-lipped Weddings Unlucky, 101.— Odd 
Custom in relation to Marriage Fee, 101.— Sand Spread in Front 
of Bride's House, 102.— Sawdust Spread along the Road to the 
Church, 102.— Churchyard Path Strewed with Emblems of Bride- 
groom's Trade, 102.— Parents of Couple to be Married do not 
Attend the Service, 103.— Marking instead of Signing the Regis- 
ter, 103.— Hot Pots, 103.— Bridal Party Detained by Floral Bar- 
rier, 104.— The Louping Stone, 105.— Coppers Thrown to Crowd 
when Couple are Leaving, 105.— Bridecake Thrown from Upper 
Window, and Divination thereon, 106.— Questions in Service 
answered in Low Voice, 10G. — Form of Anathema on a Young 
Couple, 106. — Walk round Village on Evening of Wedding Day, 
107. — Special Entrance and Exit Doors in Church, 107. — Glass 
Dishes and Register Books on Altar at a Wedding, 107. — First 
Couple Married in a New Church have Bible and Prayer Book 
given them, 108. — Marriages in Church of St. John in the Wilder- 
ness, 308. — Confirmation required before Marriage, 108. — Wheat- 
Throwing over Newly-Married, 108. — Brides Dragged unwillingly 
to Church in Scotland, 109. — Odd Form of Marriage at Galashiels, 
109. — Public Announcement of Bride's Portion in Last Century, 
109. — Persons very much Married, 110. — Marriage in the Smock, 
111. — Fleet Marriages, 112. — Touting for, and Payment of Bride- 
grooms, 113. — Parochial Authorities and Paupers, 113. — -Savoy 
Marriages, 114. — May Fair Marriages, 114. — Canongate Marriages 
in Edinburgh, 114. — Heavy Damages for Breach of Promise, 115. — 
Solemn Betrothal, 115. — Penny Weddings, 115. — Marriages of 
the Poor by License, 116. — Taxes on Marriage, 118. 



Choral Funerals, 119. — Extracts from Machyn's Diary, 120. — The 
Passing Bell, 121. — Deemed Superstitious by Puritans, 123. — The 
" Tellers," 124.— Garb Worn at Funerals, 124.— Black Silk Scarf 
for Officiant, 125. — Hat Bands, 125. — Pauper's Funerals, 125. — 
Round Frocks at Funerals, 125. — Children's Funerals in Cornwall, 
126. — Plastering Inside of Graves, 126. — Coffins carried with Nap- 
kins, 127. — Linen Napkins only used- 128. — Bumping the Coffin, 
129. — Dole to Attendants at Funerals, 129. — Bowing to the Coffin, 
129.— Hymn Singing at Funerals, 130.— Arval Bread, 130. — Rest- 
ing Stones, 130. — Bidding Rounds, 130. — Bidding Letters in Paris 
132.— Lifting the Corpse, 133.— Derivation of "Funeral," 134.-- 


Unfastening Doors before Death, 134. — Jewish Custom, 135. — 
Custom in Holland and Germany, 135. — Is Death a Sudden or 
a Lengthened Operation ? 136. — Funeral Procession to go the way 
of the Sun, 136.— Burial Fees, 136.— Curious Welsh Custom, 137. 
— Voluntary Offerings, 137. — Burial Fees formerly Simoniacal, 
138. — Sometimes collected on Sexton's Spade, 138. — Gifts left for 
the Poor and for a Memorial Service, 138. — Superstitions as to 
Deaths, 140. — The Sin Eater, 140. — Objects found in Graves and 
Coffins, 141. — Burial of Unbaptised Children, 143. — Odd Usage at 
Brecknock, 143. — Woman Buried in Dress she wore at her Confir- 
mation, 143. — Burials in Woollen, 144. — Evasions of the Law, 145, 
— Torchlight Funerals, 145. — Coffined and Uncoffined Burials, 
146. — Our Burial Office ignores Coffins, 148. — Parish Shell at 
Easingwold, 148 ; and at Youghal, ] 49. — Public Subscription for 
Coffin in Ireland, 149. — White Stones found on Uncoffined Corpses 
in Ireland, 150. — Burials in Erect Posture, 150. — Burials by Im- 
mersion, 151. — Burial on North Side of the Church disliked, 152. 
— Instances of Graves Facing North and South, 154. — Burial of 
Suicides, 154. — Notes on Burials in Machyn's Diary, 155. — Funerals 
of Royal Personages and the Nobility, 157.— Funeral Palls, 158. — 
Filling up the Grave, 158. — Nails loosened from Coffin Lid before 
being lowered, 159. — Wakes, 159. — Funeral Customs in Cumber- 
land and Westmoreland, 160.— Coffin kept above Ground, 164.— 
Tombstone Inscriptions, 165.— Memorial Garlands, 167.— Sprigs of 
Box and Acacia, 169. — Grave Dressing, 170. 


Legal Aspect of Penance, 173. — Excommunication, 174. — Penance in 
Cornwall, 175.— Machyn's Penance, 175.— Marriage following 
upon Penance, 176. — Public Penitential Acknowledgment, 177. — 
Penance by Quakers, 165.— Penance for " Slander" in 1845, 178. 
— Penance in Gloucestershire in 1846, and in Cambridgeshire in 
1849, 178. 



Use of word "Priest" in the North, 179.— Respect for the Clergy, 
179.— Priest and Parson, 180.— The Title of "Lord Rector," 181; 
and of " Archpriest," 182.— Two " Cardinals " in St. Paul's, 183 — 
Privileges of the Cardinals, 183.— Social Status of Clergy in Last 
Century, 184.— Remuneration for Clerical Duty, 185.— Refresh- 


ment provided for Clergy, 187.— Cakes and Beer given to Congre- 
gation, 186.— Pluralities, 187.— Curious Instances of Pluralists, 
188.— Church Privileges in the Scilly Isles, 188.— Gaol Chaplains, 
189.— Clerical M.P.'s, 189.— Diplomatic Deacon, 190.— Clerics in 
Charge of Peculiars. 190. 



Churchwardens, their Duties, 192.— Inspect Public-houses during Ser- 
vice, 192. — Compel People to come to Church, 193. — Keep them 
in order while there, 193. — Sometimes Women Chosen, 193.— 
Payment for Killing " Urchins,'' 193. —Parish Clerk gave out 
Notices in Church, 194. — Curious Example of Clerk's Notice, 195. 
— Free-and-easiness in Country Churches, 195. — Clerk Ales, 195. 
— Women as Parish Clerks, 195. — Legality of such Appointments, 
196. — Hereditary Parish Clerks, 196. — Hereditary Sextons, 197. — 
Legality of a Sextoness, 197. — Dog-whippers, their Duties, 196. — 
Payment of Dog-whippers in Maryland, 198. — Dog-tongs, 198. — 
Dog-whip, 200. — Endowment of Dog-whipper, 199. — Dog-whipper 
to Awaken Sleepers, 199. — Implements for this purpose, 199. — 
Dog-whipping at York, 200. 



Open Seats erected in 1750, 201. — Pew entirely covered in, 201. — 
Library Pew at Langley Marsh, 202. — Anthem Sung in Organ 

Loft, 202.— Election for Pews at Bury St. Edmunds, 203. Pont 

in North Pier of Chancel Arch, 203. — Font in Westminster Abbey 
Removed, 203. — Basins in Fonts, 204. — Musicians and Singers 

Sitting round Altar, 205. — Post-Reformation Screens, 205. 

Eagles in Sanctuary for Gospeller and Epistoller, 205. — Altar 
Pieces representing the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Child 
put up in 1735, 205.— Movable Organs and Pulpits, 206.— Chained 
Books in Churches, 206.— Hour-Glassin Pulpit, 208. — The Priest's 
Watch, 210. — A Bell on Chancel Screen, 211. — Notices on Church 
Doors, 212. — Finger Stocks in Church, 212. — Stocks in Church 
Porch, 213.— Relics in Church, 214.— The Scold's Bridle, 213.— 
Mother Ludlam's Kettle, 214. 




Difficulty of Distinguishing between Religious and Secular Customs, 
215.— T' Andrew Bell, 216. — Evergreens in Church on Advent 
Sunday, 216.— Advent Images, 216.—" The Vessel Cup," 216.— 
Name of " Advent" Universal, 217. — St. Thomas's Day Customs, 
218.—" Going a Gooding," 217.— Carols at Christmas, 218.— Pic- 
torial Carol, 218.— Misletoe and the Yule Log, 219.— The Ashton 
Faggot, 220.— Curious Custom in Isle of Thanet, 220.— Odd 
Christmas Usage at Raleigh, 221. — Dolls carried about by Carol- 
Singers, 222. — Anthems and Carols in Exeter Cathedral, 221. — 
Lights carried by Colliers at Christmas, 223. — Rector Escorted to 
Church with Lighted Torches, 222. — Swansea Church Lighted with 
Coloured Candles on Christmas Morning, 222. — Hot Broth pro- 
vided for Carol-Singers, 223. — Christmas Fire Lighted only from 
Borrowed Embers, 223. — Nosegay Presented by Clerk to Rector 
on Christmas Morning, 223. — Carols Sung from Top of Crondall 
Church Tower, 223.— Cruel Custom on St. Stephen's Day, 223.— 
Holy Innocent's Day Observed Sorrowfully, 224. — Day Regarded 
as Unlucky, 224. — No Scrubbing allowed on Childermas Day, 224. 
— Muffled Peal on Eve of Circumcision, 224. — New Year Ushered 
in with Joyous Peal, 224. — Epiphany Offerings by Monarch, 225. 
— Change of Custom, 225. — City Custom on Twelfth Day, 225. — 
Yorkshire Twelfth Day Custom, 225.— St. Paul's Day, Cornwall 
Custom, 226. — Candlemas Day, Nottingham Custom, 226. — Cum- 
berland and Ripon Customs, 227. — Shrove Tuesday, variety of 
names given to, 227. — Shropshire, etc., Custom, 228. — Ball Day in 
East Riding, 228. — Odd Names for Shrove Tuesday in Stafford- 
shire, 228. — Isle of Wight Custom, 229. — Lent Observance in 
Queen Elizabeth's Days, 229. — Lent Dispensations from Fasting, 
230.— Observance of Lent in Eighteenth Century, 231.—" Mother- 
ing Sunday," 231.— Simnel Cake, 231.— Fig-Pie Wake, 232.— 
Carling Sunday, 232. — Curious Custotn in Herefordshire, 233.— 
The Caistor Gad-Whip, 233.— Wiltshire and Salop Customs, 235. 
— Curious Idea in Hants, 235.— Feet- Washing on Maundy Thurs- 
day, 235. — Good Friday Customs, 237. — Wine Consumed at St. 
Julian's, Shrewsbury, on Easter Day, 240.— Flowers given to 
Clergymen at Easter, 241. — Early Communion at Usk, 241. — 
Jewels Worn at Easter, 241. — Cakes Sold to Principal People at 
Hawkchurch, 241. — Cakes given to Poor at Biddenden, 242.— 
Heaving on Easter Monday and Tuesday, 242.— Easter Eggs, 243.. 


—The May Queen, 243.— May Babies, 243.— May Poles, 243.— 
Rogation Days, 244.— George Herbert on Rogations, 244.— Ac- 
count of Rogation Procession, 245.— Quantity Eaten and Drunk 
thereat, 248.— Elizabethan Injunctions about Perambulations, 248. 
—Bequests for Rogation Refreshments, 248.— Archbishop Seeker 
on Rogations, 249.— Rogations at Wolverhampton in Last Cen- 
tury, 249.— Bequest for Ascension Day Service, 249.— Ascension 
Day Rain- Water Curative, 250.— Sugar and Water Day, 250.— 
Odd Ascension Day Gift to Clergy, 250.— Gift of Bread and Cheese 
on Whitsunday, 251.— Church Decking on Whitsunday, 252.— Why 
Birch was Used, 252.— Thump Sunday, 252.— Crack-Nut Sunday, 
252. — St. Crispin's Day Observance, 252. — Observances on St. 
Clement's Day, 253.—" Souring" on November 2, 253. 



Dislike of the Puritans to Musical Services, 254. — Organs Destroyed, 
254. — Variety of Instruments used in Cathedrals, 254.-— Organ 
perhaps only used on Festivals, 255. — Bands in Village Churches, 
255. — Barrel Organs, 250. — Parish Clerks and Psalmody, 256. — 
Mode of Singing the Metrical Psalms, 257. — Responses suggestive 
of Traditional Chanting of Service, 257. — Voluntaries, 257. — Sur- 
pliced Choirs in Olden Time, 258. — Admission of Choristers at 
Exeter, 258.— Bishop Blessing the Choir Boys, 259.— Carols, 259. 
—The Seven Joys of Mary, 260.— Quaint Cornish Carol, 261 — 
Carvals in the Isle of Man, 262. 



Churches Strewed with Rushes, 264. — Description of Rush Bearing, 
265.— Church Decoration at the Three Great Festivals, 265. — Pre- 
Reformation Mode of Decking Churches, 267. — Church Decking 
in Wales, 267. — Tapestry Used for Church Decoration, 268. 



Heathen Traditions Christianised, 269. — Virtues attributed to different 
Wells, 270.— Our^Lady of Nant's Well, 270.— Gulnal Well, 270.— 
The Gothic Well, 271.— St. Madron's Well, 271.— St. Nun's Well 


272.— St. Uny's Well, 272.— Well of Cam Brie, 273.— St. Rumon's 
Well, 273.— St. Neot's Well, 273.— St. Keyne's Well, 273.— 
Wendron Well, 273.— St. Winifred's Well, 274.— London Wells, 
274.— St. Bride's Well, Fleet Street ; St. Chad's, Battle Bridge, 
275.— The Lady of the Well, 275.— Bagnigge's Wells, 276.— Holy- 
well Street, 276.— Offerings of Pins, 276.— St. Helen's Well, Lan- 
cashire,' 276.— The Well at Gower, 277.— Pin Well ; Glastonbury 
Well, 277.— Craigie Well, Odd Custom in respect to it, 278. — 
Rags of Cloth as Offerings, 279. — Dipping Children in St. Bede's 
Well, 279. — Resort to Holy Wells Discouraged in Scotland, 280. — 
Resort to Highland Well to Cure Cattle, 280. —Dressing the Wells 
at Tissington, 281. 



Modernised Sacrifices at King's Teignton, and at Holme, Devonshire, 
285. — Fisherman's Odd Custom at Prestonpans, 286. — Propitiatory 
Sacrifice against Murrain, 287. — Suggested Human Sacrifice, 287. 
— Cows Sacrificed in Scotland, 287. — Idolatry in Wales, 288. — 
Fetichism in Ireland, 288. — Baal Worship in Scotland, 288. — 
Baal Worship in Ireland, 289. — Midsummer Fires, 289. — Beltane 
Day, 290. — Incantation, 290. — Baal Worship in Lancashire, 290. 
— Official Protest against the Sacrifice of a Bull in Scotland, 291. 
—Survival of Druidic Festival in Cornwall, 291. 



Curious Instances of Ignorance, 293. —Candles Burnt in Church to 
Discover Future Events, 294.— Wakes, their Origin, 297.— Listen- 
ing at Church Door on Last Night of the Year, 297.— Ascension 
Day Rain- Water good for the Eyes, 297.— Superstition of Penrhyn 
Quarrymen, 298.— Divination by Bible and Key, 298.— Efficacy of 
Eucharistic Species in Curing Diseases, 299.— Result of Sacrilegi- 
ous Use of Holy Eucharist, 297.— A "Sacrament Shilling" as a 
Cure for Fits and Rheumatism, 300.— Holy Water as a Cure for 
Whooping Cough, 301.— Ground Stone from a Church as a Cure, 
301.—" Coombe" from Church Bell to Cure Shingles, 302.— May 
Morning Dew good for Consumption, 303.— Advent Images and 
Toothache, 303.— The Royal Touch, 303.— Office Used on Touch- 
ing for King's Evil, 304.— Sweepings of Church Floor to Ease a 



Painful Death, 307. — Turf from Churchyard to Relieve Dropsy, 
308.— Church Paten, with Salt, to secure Easy Death, 308.— 
Lighted Candle put into Hand of Dying Infant, 308. — Supposed 
Witch Weighed against Church Bible, 309. — A Spirit-Laying- 
Clergyman, 309. — Odd Superstitions in Devonshire, 310. — The 
Evil Eye, 310. — Pixie-Led People, 310. — Clergyman in Devonshire- 
sent for to Lay a Ghost, 311. 

Appendix I. — London Services in Queen Anne's Reign, 312. 
Appendix II.— Odd Christian Names, 324. 


HENRY VIII. IS°9 — 1547 

EDWARD VI. 1547 T S53 

MARY 1553— ^S 8 

ELIZABETH - 1558 1603 

JAMES I. 1603 1625 

CHARLES I. 1625 1649 

COMMONWEALTH 1649 l6 53 



CHARLES II. 1660— 1685 

JAMES II. 1685 1688 

WILLIAM III. 1689 1702 

ANNE 1702— I 7 14 

GEORGE I. I7I4—I7 2 7 

GEORGE II. 1727— 1760 

GEORGE III. 1760— 1820 

GEORGE IV. 1820— 1830 

WILLIAM IV. - 1830— 1837 





When we search into the religious records of the past we 
cannot help being, at times, painfully struck with what 
appears to us a gross disregard to the sacredness of the 
consecrated buildings in which our forefathers assembled 
for worship. No doubt we owe a good deal of this to the 
influence of the Puritans, but it must be remembered that 
not a little of it was handed down to us by our pre-Reforma- 
tion ancestors. So long as the chancels and chapels in 
which the sacred rites were performed were kept from pro- 
fanation, a degree of licence, utterly at variance with our 
modern ideas of reverence, or even of the most ordinary 
degree of propriety, was permitted, and the naves of our 
cathedrals and parish churches seem to have been regarded 
as the common homes of the people. Hence we find them 
made use of for a variety of secular purposes. Everybody 
has some sort of idea about " St. Paul's Walk" as a fashion- 
able promenade in olden days, though they may not have 
any very distinct notion as to what took place there. As a 
matter of fact, it was the favourite place for gallants to meet 
their mistresses, and where fashionable loungers idled away 



their time chattering about the latest scandal in " society," 
or other current topics of interest. Hence, according to Dr. 
Brewer, was derived the well-known phrase of "dining 
with Duke Humphrey, of which Dickens makes a humorous 
point in describing the antecedents of Diggory Chuzzlewit. 
It signifies, of course, having no dinner to go to. Humphrey, 
Duke of Gloucester, uncle to Henry VII., was renowned for 
his hospitality. At his death it was reported that a monu- 
ment would be erected to his memory at St. Paul's, though 
he was buried at St. Alban's. When the more fortunate 
promenaders left for dinner, the poor stay-behinds, who 
had no dinner to go to, used to say to the gay sparks who 
asked if they were going, that they would wait a little 
longer, and look for the monument of the good Duke. The 
fashionable hour for these promenades was as well defined 
as that now observed by West End folk in London when 
preparing for the afternoon drive, or for the canter in 
Rotten Row. The nave of St. Paul's was the generally 
recognised resort where those in " society " met, to see and 
to be seen. The naves of churches in pre-Reformation 
times were places where tradesmen assembled for bargain 
and barter, where lawyers had interviews with their 
clients, where owners of property deposited their goods, 
and where divers courts of justice were held. 

As regards St. Paul's Walk, Mr. Abbey tells us 1 that "it 
was not only the recognised resort of wits and gallants, of 
men of fashion, and of lawyers, but also, as Evelyn called 
it, a stable of horses, and a den of thieves, a common 
market, where Shakespeare makes Falstaff buy a horse as 
he would at Smithfield. 2 Usurers in the south aisle, horse- 

1 Abbey and Overton's "Church of England in the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury,'' vol. ii., p. 419. 

2 This is not quite correct according to my reading of the passage 
which runs thus: — " Falstaff—' Where's Bardolph?' Page — 'He's 
gone to Smithfield to buy your worship a horse.' Falstaff— 'I 


dealers in the north, and in the midst all kinds of bargains 
meetings, and brawlings. Before the eighteenth century 
began, Paul's Walk was in all its main features a thing of 
the past. Yet a good deal more than the mere tradition of 
it remained. In a pamphlet published in 1703, 'Jest' asks 
' Earnest ' whether he has been at St. Paul's and seen 
the flux of people there. 'And what should I do there,' 
said the latter, 'where men go out of curiosity and in- 
terest, and not for the sake of religion ? You shopkeepers 
assemble there as at fall change, and the buyers and sellers 
are far from being cast out of the temple.' " At Durham 
there was a regular thoroughfare across the nave in 1750, 
and similarly at Norwich until 1748, when Bishop Gooch 
stopped it. The naves of York Minster and of Durham 
Cathedral were fashionable promenades. The Confessor's 
Chapel at the Abbey made on occasion a convenient play- 
ground for Westminster scholars, who were allowed as late 
as 1829 to keep the scenes for their annual play in the 
triforium of the north transept. 

I understand that 1 the representatives of the Vavasour 
family have a traditional right to ride on horseback into 
the nave of York Minster, on the ground that an ancestor 
of theirs granted freedom of carriage through his land for 
stone used in the building of the cathedral. What 
authority there is for the correctness of the statement I 
cannot say. 

Mr. J. C. Jeafferson, when discussing the question as to 
the continuance of the old custom of holding the ecclesias- 
tical courts in churches, is not quite accurate in stating, as 
he does in his "Book about the Clergy," 2 that the Corn- 
bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield, an' I 
could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and 
wifed.'" — "Henry IV.," part ii., act i., sc. 2. 

1 Notes and Queries (1857), p. 418. 

2 Vol. i., p. 341. 


missary Court of Surrey still holds its sittings in the 
church of St. Saviour's, Southwark. The rector tells me 
that the Ladye Chapel is a " consistory court," and it was 
there that the "Anglican martyrs" were tried in 1555. 
The Chancellor of the Diocese still holds his courts there 
to consider and decide upon disputed applications for 

It is worth while, in passing, to state that one of the 
charges made by the Puritans against Laud was that he 
forbade the justices of the peace to hold their court in the 
church at Tewkesbury because it was consecrated ground. 

But, as regards the irreverence spoken of above, it is 
only right to state that those in authority were fully alive 
to the scandals which were rife, and that their wish was to 
put a stop to them. But even Henry VIII., with all his 
persistent energy and undoubted power, was unable to 
check the prevailing licence, and his injunction that no 
person should abuse the churches either by eating, drink- 
ing, buying, selling, playing, dancing, or witli other 
profane and worldly matters, seems to have been prac- 
tically still-born. His edict had especial reference to what 
were known as "Church Ales," and the like. These 
parochial gatherings and merrymakings continued for 
many years after this king's reign, and throw no little 
light upon the customs of our forefathers. A brief de- 
scription of them will, therefore, be interesting. 

The Church Ale, or Whitsun Ale, as it was sometimes 
called, from the festival duriDg which it was usually held, 
was quite an institution in olden times, and seems to have 
been carried on in a very systematic, if not, according to 
our ideas, in a very seemly manner. Two wardens were 
generally chosen to superintend the preparations, and some- 
times there was a lord and a lady, as in the churchwarden's 
accounts at Brentford, in 1674, appears an item : — "Paid to 
her that was lady at Whitsontide, by consent, 5 shillino-s." 


At such times collections of money were made for church 
purposes. Stubbes in his "Anatomy of Abuses," 1585 
gives the following account of "The Maner of Church Ales 
in England : — ■ 

" In certain townes where dronken Bacchus beares swaie 
against Christmas and Easter, Whitsontide, or some other 
tyme, the churchwardens of every parishe, with the con- 
sent of the whole parishe, provide halfe a score or twenty 
quarters of meult, whereof some they buy of the churche 
stocke, and some is given them of the parishioners them- 
selves, everyone conferring somewhat according to his 
abilitie ; which mault being made into very strong ale or 
beere, is sette for sale either in the church, or some other 
place assigned for that purpose. Then, when this is set 
abroche, well is he that can gette the soonest to it, and 
spend the most at it. In this kinde of practice they con- 
tinue sixe weekes, a quarter of a yeare, yea, halfe a year 
together. That money, they say, is to repair their churches 
and chappels with ; to buy bookes for service ; cuppes for 
the celebration of the Sacrament : surplesses for Sir John, 
and such other necessaries. And they maintain other 
extraordinarie charges in their parish besides." 1 

In connection with the above extract it may be worth 
while for me to note, that it appears from Kethe's sermon 
at Blandford in 1570, that it was the custom at that time 
for the Church Ales to be kept upon the " Sabbath Day," 
which holy day, says our author, " the multitude call their 
revelying day, which day is spent in bul baitings, beare 
baitings, bowlings, dicyng, cardyng, daunsynges, drunken- 
ness, and whoredom, inasmuch as men could not keepe 
their servauntes from lyinge out of theyre owne houses 
the same Sabbath Day at night." 

1 Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," Hazlitt's ed., vol. ii., p. 158. 


'' A word or two about the introduction of this word 
"Sabbath," to signify Sunday, may be interesting. The 
elder Disraeli was probably not far wrong when he fixed 
upon 1554 as the date approximately when the word 
came to be first used in England. Mr. Govett notes that 
up to the present time the proceedings in the House of 
Lords on a Saturday are headed in the Journal as " Dies 
Sabbati." An amusing incident is recorded as having 
happened in Parliament when a discussion took place as 
to the King's Declaration respecting the " Book of Sports." 
In 1620 (Feb. loth), a Bill was introduced for the " Keep- 
ing of the Sabbath, otherwise called Sunday." During the 
debate a certain Mr. Shepherd asserted that the Bill had 
been wrongly named, " for that everybody knew that the 
Sabbath was Saturday, wherefore, it should have been 
intituled, ' An Act for the observance of Saturday, other- 
wise called Sunday.' " 1 

There were minor festivities similar in character to that 
mentioned above, and used for the gathering of money, 
much, I presume, as are our modern bazaars and sales of 
work. Thus we find Clerk Ales, the purpose of which was 
to provide a salary for the parish clerk. As the Church 
Ale served to supply what we now understand by Church 
Rates and Poor Rates, so the Clerk Ale provided stipends 
for the minor officers of the Church. In a letter from 
Bishop Pierce to James I. there is the clause — -" People sent 
him (the clerk) provision, and came on Sundays to feast 
with him, by which he sold more ale. And since these 
have been put down, many ministers have complained to 
me that they are afraid they shall have no parish clerks.'' 2 

1 Govett'a " King's Book of Sports," pp. 17, 44. 

2 Govett : p. 57. I am puzzled by this reference by the author, as, 
so far as I can discover, there was no Bishop Pierce during the rei<m 
of James I., which extended from 1603 to 1625. There was John Piers 
Archbishop of York, who died in 1594, and William Piers, Bishop of 


It would be easy to enlarge upon institutions similar to 
the above, such as " Bid Ales " and " Bride Ales," and to 
show how excesses grew out o£ these church merry- 
makings, albeit they were established for a good purpose. 
Not the least memorable of these jollifications which con- 
duced to scandal were the funeral banquets, from which it 
appears how closely eating, drinking, and burying were 
connected in olden time. It is evident that a good deal of 
importance was attached to these funeral frolics by our an- 
cestors, for in Strype's edition of Stowe's " London," we find 
that Margaret Atkinson, by her will, Oct. 18, 1544, ordered 
that " the next Sunday after her burial, there be provided 
two dozens of bread, a kilderkin of ale, two gammons of 
bacon, three shoulders of mutton, and two couple of rabbits, 
desiring all the parish, as well rich as poor, to take part 
thereof, and a table to be set in the middle of the church 
with everything necessary thereto." 1 

A canon of 1571 forbade churchwardens holding banquets 
and public entertainments in churches ; but Stubbs shows 
that in 1585 Church Ales, etc., were still not infrequently 
held there. It sounds something like a paradox, says Mr. 
Abbey, to assert that the exclusion from churches of all 
that is not distinctly connected with the service of religion 
was mainly due to the Puritans, of whose wanton irreverence 
we hear so much. Yet this seems certainly to have been 
the case. It may be as Mr. Abbey charitably supposes, but 
I should be inclined to think that the apparent scrupulous- 
ness of the Puritans was more from dislike to the festivities 
than from reverence to the churches. 

Among what may be called church frolics in days of old, 
few, if any, are better known, by name at least, than that 
of the " Boy Bishop." This burlesque ceremonial took place 

Peterborough, consecrated in 1630, but one of these was too early, and 
the other too late. 

1 Jeafferson : " Book of the Clergy," vol. i., p. 354. 


generally on Dec. 6, the Festival of St. Nicholas, who was 
regarded as the patron of children. The proceedings were 
nothing more or less than a parody of some of the more 
sacred offices of the Church, and what is more, took place 
oftentimes in cathedrals with the full sanction of the 
clergy. With our modern ideas we have a difficulty in 
imagining how such profane buffoonery could, in any age, 
be tolerated, to say nothing of encouraged. Nevertheless, 
it continued as late as the reign of Henry VIII., when we 
find so respectable a dignitary as Dean Colet, in his "Statutes 
of St. Paul's School in 1512," prescribing that the scholars 
should come on Holy Innocent's Day to hear the Child 
Bishop's sermon, and after be at High Mass, and each of 
them to offer a penny to the Child Bishop. 1 This burlesqu- 
ing of holy rites was discontinued in 1542, and excepting 
an attempt to revive it during Mary's reign, we hear no 
more of it. 

Those who wish to learn more about the Boy Bishop will 
find as much as they will need in Hone's " Ancient 

I should not have called attention to it at all had it not 
been that a ceremonial with which the older readers of this 
volume are more or less familiar — -the " Eton Montem " — is 
believed to have grown out of it. One of the usages thereat, 
which was observed until the middle of the last century, 
was undoubtedly a survival of the Boy Bishop pageant. 
When the procession reached Salt Hill a boy dressed in 
clerical robes came forward and read prayers, whilst 
another boy officiated as clerk, who at the end of the service 
was kicked down hill by the mock parson. George III. 
was a great patron of the show, and encouraged it by hand- 
some donations when the salt bearers came round ; but the 
first time that Queen Charlotte saw this part of the frolic, 
she was so shocked at its irreverence that it was from 
] Govett : p. 30. 


thenceforth abandoned. As we all know, the Eton Montem 
was finally abolished in 1847. 

But to return. Gross as was the irreverence fostered hy 
the Church Ales, and similar profane uses to which conse- 
crated buildings were put, it was as nothing when compared 
with what was done by the Anti-Eoman party under 
Thomas Cromwell. Blunt quotes Foxe and Burnet in 
support of this, and shows how Cromwell caused ballads to 
be circulated of the most ribald and false character, and 
encouraged his sectarian followers to act blasphemous plays 
in the churches dedicated to God. 1 " This valiant soldier 
of Christ," writes Foxe, " the aforesaid Lord Cromwell, as 
he was most studious of himself in a flagrant zeal to set 
forward the truth of the Gospel, seeking all means and 
ways to beat down the false religion, and to advance the 
true, so he always retained unto him, and had about him 
such as could be found helpers and furtherers of the same ; 
in the number of whom were sundry fresh and quick wits 
pertaining to his family, by whose industry and ingenious 
labours divers excellent ballads and books were contrived 
and set abroad concerning the suppression of the Pope, and 
all Popish idolatry." These ballads are of the most abom- 
, inable kind, full of immorality and obscenity. Burnet also 
says that " the political men of that party " made great use 
of stage plays and interludes, which were often acted in 
churches, " encouraging them all they could," and that 
these plays represented " the immoralities and disorders of 
the clergy," and the " pageantry of their worship." 2 Well 
might Blunt add : — " The horrible coarseness of such repre- 
sentations of immorality, and the blasphemy of parodying 
the Holy Eucharist in the very House of God itself, seems 
not to have struck these writers." 

As an instance of how long the abuses will survive, and 

1 J. H. Blunt: "History of Reformation," p. 273. 
v ; Burnet : "Reformation," i., 502, Pocock's ed. 


long custom render people blind to acts of gross irreverence, 
the following will be of interest. 

In the Standard of May 24th, 1888, the following para- 
graph appeared : — 

" A curious custom was yesterday observed in the Parish 
Church of St. Ives, Hunts. Dr. Robert Wilde, who died in 
August, 1678, bequeathed £50, the yearly interest of which 
was to be expended in the purchase of six Bibles, not ex- 
ceeding the price of 7s. Gd. each, which should be ' cast for by 
dice ' on the communion table every year by six boys and six 
girls of the town. A piece of ground was bought with the 
£50, and is now known as ' Bible Orchard.' The legacy also 
provided for the payment of 10s. yearly to the vicar for 
preaching a sermon on the occasion ' commending the excel- 
lency, the perfection, and divine authority of the Holy 
Scriptures.' This singular custom has been regularly ob- 
served in the Church since the death of the testator, but 
representations having been made to the Bishop of the- 
Diocese, the practice of throwing the dice on the communion 
table was discontinued some years ago, and the raffling now 
takes place on a table erected at the chancel steps. The- 
highest throw this year (three times with three dice) was 
37, by a little girl. The vicar (Rev. E. Tottenham) preached 
a sermon on the words, ' From a child thou hast known the 
Holy Scriptures.' " 

The younger ones amongst us are probably not aware 
that almost, if not quite, within the memory of their elders 
still living, strangely secular usages were not uncommon in 
churches. I have a letter before me in which the writer 
says : — ■" Sir George Provost (late Archdeacon of Gloucester, 
and Isaac Williams' brother-in-law) tells me that he remem- 
bers the candidate for a parliamentary election being pro- 


posed and seconded in Cirencester Church." This was a 
common tiling in many places seventy years ago. 

Apart from all reverential considerations, the nave of a 
church would, according to our modern ideas, seem to be 
about as inconvenient a place for a parish merry-making as 
could be well imagined. But it must be remembered that, 
in the days of which we have, been speaking, the naves of 
churches were to a great extent devoid of furniture, and 
were simply large, open spaces, such as are still to be seen 
in some of our cathedrals. The introduction of pews for 
the convenience of worshippers was very gradual. Most 
writers who touch upon the subject consider that these 
fixed seats in churches were introduced in the reign of 
Henry VIII., but this is incorrect, for I find a notice of 
their existence nearly a hundred years before his time. A 
will, dated 1453, is extant in which the phrase, " Sedile 
vocatum pew," occurs. 1 And what is more to the purpose, 
the churchwarden's accounts of the Parish of St. Margaret's, 
Westminster, 1498-1500, contain the following entries of 
" Receytes of Pews " : — 

"Item R. of the wyffe of the George for hir parte of a 

new Pewe. iijs. 
Item R. of Wilton Wynnes for his parte of a Pewe in 

the trinite Chapell. iijs iiid. 
Item R. of Will m Griffe and Thomas ffroste for licence 

to sette a pewe bi the chirche dore. xijd. 
Item R. of Jamys Hansett^ns wyfe, and Juliane Notare's 

wyfe for a Pewe xvjd. 
Item R of Wynkyns wyfe for hir part of a Pewe. viij." 

As for the time being I am incidentally dealing with 
pre-Reformation matters in connection with pews, it may be 
interesting if I note that certain squabbles about seats in 
1 Waloott's " Sacred Archeology,?' p. 443. 


church which have occasionally taken place in our own 
days are shown to have not been altogether unknown in 
times long past. A correspondent to the Penny Post, 1 
quoting, I believe, from Maitland's " History of London " 
(1756), tells us that, in 1417, " the Ladies Grange and Trussel, 
inflamed by an old grudge about precedence, being in a pew 
in the church in St. Dunstan's in the East, they imperiously 
vied for superiority, and became so shamefully outrageous 
that the Lord Grange and Mr. Trussel drew their swords, and 
not listening to any accommodation, murdered Thomas 
Petward, a fishmonger, and wounded many others ; for which 
offence they were excommunicated by the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, and not absolved until due reparation had been 
made, both to the church and the widow of Mr. Petward." 

I have met somewhere with a similar story of two ladies 
who, like those just mentioned, had a dispute for precedence 
in the matter of seats in church. This contention was by 
mutual agreement settled in a much simpler fashion. One 
of them proposed to refer the question to an arbitrator, and 
suggested that the rector should be appealed to. The 
parson, like a sensible man as he was, gave his decision 
that the elder of the two ladies ought to have the preference. 
It need scarcely be said that nothing more was heard about 
the quarrel. 

In a print in Sparrow's " Rationale," which was pub- 
lished in 1697, no seats for the worshippers are visible. 
Possibly the sketch was from some church in either the 
diocese of Exeter or Norwich, of which Sees Sparrow was, 
in turn, bishop. 

It would appear that the introduction of pews was not 
regarded with approval by the better part of the clergy. 
Latimer, who was consecrated Bishop of Worcester in 1535 
disapproved of the innovation, and so did Bradford, who 
was'Prebendary of St. Paul's about the same time, and Sir 
1 Penny Post (1862), p. 53. 


Thomas More also spoke against them. At this time the 
aged and infirm used portable stools, which appear to have 
been employed for many years. The well-known story of 
Jenny Geddes hurling her stool at the head of the Dean 
when Charles I., at the instance of Archbishop Laud, intro- 
duced the new service book into Scotland, shows that, in 
1636, fixed seats had not then become general in the 
North. 1 

An instance of the official appropriation of fixed seats 
in cburch, in the early part of the seventeenth century, can- 
not fail to be of interest. The Rev. H. H. Minchin, who 
was Vicar of Woodford Halse, Northamptonshire, from 
1855 to 1884, was good enough, during his incumbency of 
that parish, to send me the following extract from his 
Church Register : — 

" Primo die Maii Anno Dni 1619. 

" Memorand — it was agreed uppon the daie and yeare 
first above written by Mr. Hawkins Vicar John Chappell 
George Handcocke Churchw. John Gibbs and Richard 
Rowse sidesmen that Thomas Hill of Hinton and his wife 
their heires and assignes shall sit in the uppermost seat in 
the North the next unto the pue of Hugh Catesby gent as 
belonginge of right unto their new dwellinge Howse in 
Hinton for ever As may appeare more fullie by their Deede 
under their (several ?) handes for the better confirmacon 

" Primo die Maii Anno Dni 1619. 

" Memorand — it was agreed uppon the daie and yeare 
first above written by Mr Hawkins Vicar John Chappell 

3 A stool, which is said to be the one which Jenny Geddes threw at 
the Dean, is in the Antiquarian Museum at Edinburgh. It is four- 
legged with a seat of woollen material, and made to shut up like what 
are now called " croquet stools.'' 


George Handeocke Ghurchw. John Gibbs and Ricliard 

Rowse sidesmen that the third of the nethermost seat 

save one next unto the ffonte and that next unto the 

of the said seate butting into the middle Alley of the Prsh 
Church of Woodford shall for ever hereafter remaine and 
bee as of right unto the new dwellinge howse of Thomas 
Cheeckley, situate in Hinton and to his heirs and assignes 
for ever as more at large may appeare by their deede under 
their (several ?) hands (delivered ?) to the same Tho. 
Cheeckley by the above named Mr. Hawkins, Church- 
wardens and sidesmen." 

Another entry of the same date gives the original name 
" alley," which we have corrupted into "aisle," — " the seat 
butting into the middle alley." "Alley" is, of course, 
derived from the French allee, a passage, whilst "aisle " is 
from the French aile — a wing. To speak of the north and 
south aisles in a church is correct enough, because, in using 
these terms we do not mean to signify the passages, but 
those portions of the structure which are on either side of 
the nave, to resemble, in imagination, the wings of a bird. 
But to talk about the " middle aisle," by which is always 
meant the passage up the nave, must be wrono-, as it is 
absurd to talk about a " middle wing." 

Up to nearly the middle of the present century a pew 
remained in the Church of Geddington St. Mary, North- 
amptonshire, bearing on it the date 1602. When the 
church was reseated some fifty years ago the dated panel 
was very judiciously worked into the door of the cupboard 
appropriated to the surplices. There was another pew in 
the same church dated 1604. Although, as it would seem, 
pews were not infrequent in town churches during Eliza- 
beth's reign, I imagine that they were rarely seen in 
country villages like Geddington, and the fact of those 
mentioned being dated seems to show that the church 


officials were rather proud of introducing the new fashion 
in such a place. Indeed, considerably more than a hundred 
years after this — i.e. in 1725 — Swift, when enumerating 
the plagues of a country life, makes " a church without 
pews" a special item in his list. 1 It is evident that he 
altered his mind as he grew older, for, in 1708 (as it is 
believed), he wrote his " Baucis and Philemon," and there 
we have him ridiculing pews in this fashion : — 

" A bedstead of the antique mode, 
Compact of timber many a load ; 
Such as our grandsires wont to use, 
Was metamorphosed into pews ; 
Which still their ancient nature keep, 
By lodging those disposed to sleep." 

As strange an instance of the way in which pews have 
in past times been utilised that I have ever met with has 
been mentioned to me by Mr. Edward Peacock, F.S.A., who 
tells me that at Northorpe Church, Lincolnshire, until 
about 60 years ago, there was a small pew, just within the 
chancel arch, known as "The Hall Dog Pew," in which the 
dogs who followed his grandfather to church were im- 
prisoned during the service. He tells me that it was not so 
used during his time, but that he remembers the pew very 
well. He adds that it was not an uncommon, thing for an 
aunt of his to take her dog with her to the same church. 
Perhaps in this connection I may be permitted to record a 
personal reminiscence. Some dozen or more years ago, I 
was in Connemara salmon fishing. The first Sunday the 
landlord of the hotel where I was staying kindly offered 
me a seat in his car , to convey me to a chapel on the bog 
three or four miles off for the midday mass. I gladly ac- 
cepted the lift. The chapel was of the most primitive 
kind, and the floor was but of beaten clay. When I en- 
tered, the altar rails were closely packed with worshippers, 
1 Abbey and Overton : vol. ii., p. 422. 


who were, I presume, all shepherds. There was only one 
" pew," which belonged to the " quality," i.e. the landlord 
and his family. I preferred to kneel alongside my attend- 
ant " ghillie " (to use a Scotch term) who was there. There 
were a dozen dogs at least in the chapel, several of them 
sitting behind their masters, who were kneeling at the altar 
rail. One of these sheep-dogs amused me greatly. He sat 
most quietly through the earlier portion of the mass. As 
soon as the Creed had been recited, and the celebrant 
turned round to deliver the sermon, the dog looked up, as 
much as to say, " Oh, sermon time ! all right," and having, 
dog fashion, walked round three times, curled himself up 
for a comfortable sleep. The sermon, which did not last 
more than ten minutes, being over, the dog woke up, and 
sat on his tail behind his shepherd master until the service 
was ended. There was something so deliciously human 
about this that I have never forgotten it. I have described 
the incident exactly as it happened, without the slightest 
exaggeration. The experience was too delightful to have 
escaped my memory. 

It is interesting to note how soon pews came to be 
abused, and made to minister to man's luxury and selfish- 
ness, and how two centuries and a half ago the same com. 
plaint was made of them, as every one of us has personally 
heard, times out of number. Bishop Corbet of Norwich, 
who died in 1635, in condemning these private seats, declared 
that " stately pews are now become tabernacles, with rings 
and curtains to them. There wants nothing but beds to 
hear the Word of God on. "We have casements, locks, 
keys, and cushions — I had almost said bolsters and pillows 
— and for these we love the church ! I will not guess 
what is done in them, who sits, stands, or lies asleep at 
prayers, Communion, etc. ; but this I dare say, they are 
either to hide disorder or proclaim pride." 1 

] Jeafferson, "Book of the Clergy," vol. ii., p. 14. 


I cannot refrain from borrowing a choice morsel from 
Mr. Abbey at this point. After quoting from Mr. Beresford 
Hope's "Worship in the Church of England" to the effect that 
pews in modern days had been " sometimes filled with sofas 
and tables, and even provided with fire-places," he remarks 
that cases might be mentioned where the tedium of a long 
service, or the appetite engendered by it, were relieved by 
the entry, between prayers and sermon, of a livery ser- 
vant with sherry and light refreshments, adding that such 
an instance was once mentioned to him hy Bishop Eden, 
the late Primus of the Church in Scotland. 1 

And in connection with this question of pews, I find that 
until about fifty years ago a most singular custom was ob- 
served at Otteringham, a village of Middle Holderness, 
about seven miles from Hedon in the East Riding of York- 
shire. 2 This took place on the even of November 5, and 
consisted in what was called " Flapping the Church." Each 
lad in the parish having provided himself with a cord, to 
which was attached a stout piece of leather about six inches 
long, proceeded to the church, headed by the parish clerk. 
Being all assembled in the church, which was lighted up for 
the occasion, the ringers started a peal, and then the 
flapping began. The clerk shouted out, " Now, boys, flap 
away ! " and then all the pews in the church were assailed 
inside and out by the flappers. Having threshed the pews 
for some time, encouraged by the clerk's cry, " Flap away, 
boys ! " the leather weapons were generally at the end 
directed against each other, and the whole ceremony closed 
with a general steeplechase through the sacred building. 
At Roose, in Middle Holderness, was a similar custom, but 
was there called " Babbling." Also at Skirlaugh, in North 
Holderness, this ceremony was yearly observed. 

1 Abbey and Overton: " Church of England in the Eighteenth Cen^ 
tury," vol. ii., p. 423. 

2 Notes and Queries (1858), p. 236. 


There is another custom connected with the fabric of the 
church which is well worth recording. The account which 
I am able to give of it has been kindly furnished to me by 
the Rev. A. B. Timbrell, Vicar of Cradley, in Staffordshire. 
The substance of his letter I must give in my own words. 
He tells me that what is called in his neighbourhood 
"' Clipping the Church " has prevailed for some time, 
although his parish is, comparatively speaking, a new one, 
dating from 1841, and the church was erected in 1798. 
The custom must therefore have been introduced in imita- 
tion of that prevalent in those parts — perhaps from Wolver- 
hampton, as we shall see presently. The practice, he tells 
me, was for the children in the national schools to join 
hand in hand round the church, and to dance and shout. 
If there were not enough children in the schools to surround 
the church, idle boys and girls from the streets were called 
in. " Last year," says Mr. Timbrell, "the first of my incumb- 
ency, I continued the practice, minus the dancing, and then 
assembled the children on the steps in front of the church, 
and made them sing a hymn, and then gave them a short 
address, explaining the custom to mean that the church be- 
longed to them as baptised Christians. This year," proceeds 
the vicar, "as there was nothing of antiquity in the custom, 
so far as this parish is concerned, I discontinued it, and 
find that I have gratified devout church people by doino- so. 
My own impression," adds Mr. Timbrell, "is that the practice 
was introduced by one of my predecessors, a Mr. Jones, pre- 
sumably a Welshman, who died about 1848. No sucli 
custom exists or has existed at the Mother Church of this 
parish, Halesowen, so far as I know." 

My correspondent has been good enough to furnish me 
with some extracts relative to the custom of " Clipping the 
Church," from a book published in 1859, and written by 
the Rev. W. H. Jones, who was an antiquary of repute. It 
had to do with the parish of Bradford-on-Avon in North 


Wiltshire, and the author mentions an old custom which he 
says had not then passed away, and which until the church- 
yard was inclosed, was strictly observed. 

" On the morning of Shrove Tuesday, from time imme- 
morial, a bell has been tolled. The original purpose of 
such tolling has, of course, been long forgotten, though, no 
doubt, in olden times the people were thus summoned to 
confess their sins to the priest, or to ' shrive ' themselves 
as it was called, the especial work of Shrove Tuesday, 
whence it derives its name. Shortly after the bell ceased, 
all the boys and youths of the town, both those from the 
schools and those apprenticed to divers crafts — custom, in- 
deed, had given to the latter a sort of presumptive claim to 
a holiday on the occasion — clustered in great numbers in 
the churchyard, and sought, by joining hands, entirely to 
encircle the church. There was, of course, on the circle 
being completed, the usual quantity of jumping and shout- 
ing. They called this ceremony ' Clipping the Church.' 
The term I cannot doubt is derived from the Anglo-Saxon 
' e lyp-P an >' which means, to embrace or clasp. 

" What was the origin or first intention of this custom it 
is impossible now to say. Were it observed at the time of 
the festival kept in commemoration of the consecration of 
the church, namely on Trinity Monday, we should judge 
it to be a relic of the old sports and pastimes usual on such 
occasions. In days gone by, fairs were commonly held in 
churchyards ; indeed, within these very few years such have 
been held in that of St. James', Bristol, when the people 
thought little of dancing about the church. In Malkin's 
' Scenery and Antiquities of South Wales ' we are told, — 
' The custom of dancing in the churchyard at their feasts 
and revels is universal in Radnorshire, and very common in 
other parts of the Principality. Indeed, this solemn abode 
is rendered a kind of circus for every sport and exercise. 


They play at " fives " and " tennis '' against the walls of the 
church. They do not dance on the graves, but on the 
north side where there are no graves.' In the case of Brad- 
ford churchyard, the booths, at the time of the annual fair, 
were in olden time brought close to its limits, and the south 
wall of the church tower shows unmistakable evidences of 
having been used for the balls of the tennis players. The 
Boys' Dance round the church, however, formed no part of 
the Trinity Festival. 

" It is possible that the custom we have been describing 
is the relic of some very ancient observance. Though we 
do not profess to rely on the facts we are about to mention 
as an explanation of this Bradford custom, yet still they 
lend some colour to a conjecture that its origin may be 
sought in extreme antiquity. 

" In days when Baal (the sun) was the chief object of 
worship, as in ancient Britain and many other countries, a 
circular dance in allusion to the sun's supposed motion 
round the earth formed part of the ceremony. The Hindoo 
also used the Baas Jattra, or ' dance of the circle/ in honour 
of Vishnu (the sun). Many British monuments, moreover, 
are in circular form, as Stonehenge, Abury, etc. Stonehenge 
was called ' the Giant's Dance,' and a circle in Cornwall is 
termed ' Dance Maine ' — dance stones. The Bev. VV. 
Bathurst Deane relates that at Carnac in Brittany, where 
there are remains of an immense stone avenue and circle, 
the villagers are accustomed, at an annual festival held on 
the day of the carnival, to unite in a general dance. The 
dancers commence in a circle, and having performed a few 
revolutions, wheel off to the right or left. They call this 
par excellence, ' Le Bal ; ' this, he suggests, may mean no- 
thing more than the French word bal, or public dancino-. 
Mr. Scarth, however, intimates an opinion that it may be, 
after all, the vestige of the sacred dance of Baal, though its 
original meaning may be forgotten. A tradition of this 


circular dancing appears in many fables respecting Druidieal 
temples in England. The stones are said to be human 
beings petrified in the midst of a dance, and all the temples 
to which such superstitions are attached are circular. At 
Stanton Drew the stones are called ' The Wedding,' and 
one of them is especially designated ' The Bride,' and here 
tradition says that they were all men and women turned 
into stone at a wedding dance. At the St. John's Eve, 
moreover, called in Ireland to this day ' Beltan Fires,' they 
danced by night round them, carrying torches in their 
hands. A similar custom was observed in Cornwall. 

"Though such facts as have been detailed cannot be 
taken as any positive explanation of the ' Boys' Dance ' 
round the church on Shrove Tuesday, yet thus much we 
may perhaps infer from them, viz. that our Bradford custom 
is no doubt very old, and that it may have arisen from 
some ancient usage of that kind." 

I suggested above that the custom of " Clipping the 
Church " at Cradley may possibly have been introduced in 
imitation of a similar custom which formerly prevailed at 
Wolverhampton. I gather from a printed slip kindly 
forwarded to me by Mr. Thomas B. Trowsdale, who has 
written much on local customs, that at the beginning of the 
present century a number of boys " at holy day time " used 
to collect together, and taking hold of hands, to proceed 
along the streets until they had gathered a sufficient num- 
ber to enable them to "Clip" St. John's Church or 
" Chapel " as it was then called. The dancing and shouting 
described above then took place. The writer states that 
he has been informed that a similar frolic has, on a few 
occasions, been carried out in connection with the Collegiate 
Church at Wolverhampton. 

In the first edition of Hone's " Every Day Book," which 
I have, dated 1826, there is an account of " Clipping the 


Church " as a usage in Birmingham when L. S., the contri- 
butor to the volume, was a child. After describing how 
the charity children assembled on each Easter Monday for 
the ceremony, he says : — " As soon as the hand of the last of 
the train had grasped that of the first, the party broke up 
and walked in procession to the other church (for in those 
days Birmingham boasted but of two), where the ceremony 
was repeated." 1 

It is well known that in ancient times the privilege of 
" sanctuary " was accorded to persons who broke the laws, 
and who were able to reach a church or other privileged 
place before they were apprehended. In some instances 
the protection extended to those who set foot within 
the cathedral or church precincts. Mr. Walcott, in his 
" Sacred Archaeology," states that this privilege pertained 
to Durham, Westminster, Carrow, Rainsey, Crowland, 
Ripon, Tintern, Leominster, and Worcester. In some places 
the church itself only was available for sanctuary. Thus, 
at Hexham and at St. Gregory's, Norwich, a ring-knocker 
still remains on the north door. This was for the use of 
persons flying from justice: Alsatia, the precinct of White- 
friars, London, was the last sanctuary in use before the 
privilege was wholly abolished in 1624. 

Haydn, in his "Dictionary of Dates" (13th edition), 
states that persons were secure from arrest in the f olio win o- 
localities in London. The Minories, Salisbury Court, 
Whitefriars, Fulwoods Rents, Mitre Court, Baldwin's Gar- 
dens, the Savoy, Clink, Deadman's Place, Montague Close, 
and the Mint. He adds that " this security was abolished 
1G96, but lasted in some degree till the reign of George II. 

I give this only on the authority of the book from which 
I take it. 

1 Hone's "Every Day Book," vol. i., col. 431. 


At Beverley Minster there is a structure called a " Frith 
Stool." This is a stone seat near the altar to which attached' 
fehe privilege of sanctuary. From a correspondent to the 
Penny Post 1 I gather that this seat, which is rude and 
plain in construction, but which I have not seen personally, 
has, or had till recently, this inscription : — " Hoc sedes 
lapidea freedstoll dicitur — i.e. pads cathedra, ad quam 
reus fugiendo pervcniens omnimodum habet securitatem.'' 
Of course the term " frith, stool " is represented by the bar- 
barous word used in the inscription. It is supposed that 
a fugitive laying hold of the knockers on the doors men- 
tioned above secured them from arrest. A similar knocker 
is, I understand, still extant on the western door of Noyon 
Cathedral, in the Department of Oise, in Normandy, some 
seventy miles N.E. of Paris. 

Although, as has been said above, the old privilege of 
sanctuary was abolished in 1624, recognised customs die 
hard in spite of legal statutes. A curious instance of this 
has been mentioned to me by the Rev. C. R. Manning, 
Rector of Diss, in Norfolk, who tells me that, in the over- 
seer's accounts for the year 1687 in that parish, among the 
disbursements of one Samuel Foulger, the following entry 
occurs : — 

" To the wench Ellenor that laye in the church porch at 
several times 00 " 7 " 6." 

The Rector adds : " She was no doubt a pauper whom 
the overseers lodged in the chamber of the porch. I do 
not find any similar entries. There is no tradition on the 

As a curious traditionary usage akin to the above, the 
following is of interest, as it brings down the fact of the 
church being regarded as a place of general refuge for the 
unfortunate to the middle of the present century. 

1 Penny Post (1875), p. 195. 


The Rector of West Tofts, Norfolk, referring to a com- 
munication of his to Notes and Queries to the effect that 
a poor woman, whose relatives had gone to America, 
applied to him, as a magistrate, for advice and assistance, 
as she and her family had become houseless, and were 
obliged to take up their abode in the church porch, tells me 
that the privilege had previously been used by a family 
living in an adjoining parish, the members of which family 
had been ejected from their cottage. 

Before the abolition of "sanctuary" in the older and 
stricter sense of the term, the church porch seems to have 
been regarded as a kind of place of refuge for the destitute. 
The Rev. W. E. Torr, formerly Vicar of Flampstead, near 
Dunstable, has sent me the following extract from the 
Burial Register of that parish : — 

" Buriales — ano 1578. On y e xxv lh November buried 
Margerye Roadinge, a poor child." 

" '52. On the xxvi th November buried Robert Roadinge 
lather unto the said childe, which bothe died in y e churche 

The vicar informs me that tradition says " there is a 
right of refuge attached to our north porch," but that he 
cannot veiify or explain it. It was in the north porch that 
the two people above-mentioned died. 

As there is in the above extracts some discrepancy as to 
the date at which the privilege of " sanctuary " was legally 
abolished, I think it well to give the following extract from 
" Phillimore's Ecclesiastical Law " for the sake of exactness : 
— " By 21 Jac. c. 28, s. 7, it was enacted that no sanctuary, 
or privilege of sanctuary, shall be admitted or allowed in 
any case." 1 

1 P. 1759 


I may add that in olden days the church porch was often 
used as the place for the payment of debts, and other such 
like matters, simply because it was a very public place where 
there were sure to be witnesses of the transaction. I have 
heard of dead bodies being laid in the church porch for 
identification, just as they are in the Morgue in Paris. 



From the number of communications which I have received 
from all parts of the country in answer to my inquiries, it 
is evident that the old custom of separating the sexes when 
worshipping in church has prevailed very widely till quite 
recent date, and indeed still prevails in certain rural parishes. 
The activity which has been shown in church " restoration," 
as it is called, which has taken place during the past forty 
or fifty years, has done a great deal towards getting rid of 
good old customs. That of dividing the sexes is one of 
great antiquity, as it is referred to in the "Apostolical Con- 
stitutions " — a document which may be as early as the 
second century, and which certainly was not later than the 
fourth. According to these constitutions it was the duty 
of the deaconesses to attend at the women's gate in the 
church, while the door-keepers took charge of that set apart 
for the men. According to Bingham (whose reference, by 
the way, is in my edition so faulty that I cannot verify it), 
St. Chrysostom, at the end of the fourth century, seems to 
indicate that in his day the churches were divided into two- 
portions by a barrier of wood. In the Eastern Church it 
was customary in ancient times for the men to occupy the 
ground floor, and for the women to be in the porticos or 
galleries above them. It is uncertain whether in the 
"Western Church the men or the women were on the north 
side of the nave, but tradition is rather in favour of assign- 
ing the north side to the women, and the south side to the 



When noticing" the similarity of principle in this matter 
of the division of the sexes during worship, with the 
divergence in practice, it is curious to remark that tlie 
•same peculiarity prevails in modern times. The instances 
which I give, selected from a large number of examples 
which have been sent to me by friends, or which have been 
gathered from other sources, tend to show that there have 
been a great variety of customs in respect to this matter. 

"In this part of Essex," wrote the Vicar of Thaxted in 
1873, "' the separation of the sexes is almost universal 
amongst the poorer classes, and I remember at Little Easton 
Church, before its restoration, Lord and Lady Maynatd 
each had a large pew on opposite sides of the church, and 
they always used each to occupy his or her own pew.'' 

As far back as 1825, says another correspondent, how 
long before I do not know, it was the custom to divide the 
sexes in the church of St. Weonard's, Herefordshire. This 
was done away with in 1840, or thereabouts. 

Next take London. I believe I am right in saying that 
in the chapels belonging to the Inns of Court — Lincoln's 
Inn, Gray's Inn, and the Temple — the sexes are always 
separated. A legal friend tells me that for many years, 
beginning about the middle of the century, he used to go 
with his father, mother, and sister to Gray's Inn Chapel, 
and that they always parted company at the door. He 
went with his father to one set of seats, and his mother and 
sister to another, generally a gallery. 

A gentleman, writing from Warwick, in 1873, says that 
at Marston St. Lawrence, in Northamptonshire, the squire 
and the males of his family or friends have always occupied 
one large family pew, and his wife and daughters and their 
lady friends the other. This custom the then squire still 
retained when the number was sufficient to justify it, there 
being sometimes only himself and his wife. 

At Christ Church, Birmingham, it was formerly the rule 


for the sexes to sit apart ; but it was found that in modern 
times many families objected to it, and so, in 1860, it was 
abolished. But practically the custom still lingered till a 
dozen or more years ago, when I was in correspondence 
with the vicar. The majority of the men occupied one 
side of the nave, and the women the other, though there 
was nothing to prevent persons from sitting in what 
places they liked downstairs, and, as a matter of fact, the 
members of families did sit together. 

The old custom at this church gave rise to a humorous 
dosrfferel, which ran thus : — 

" The churches and chapels we usually find 
Are places where men unto women are joined ; 
But at Christ Church it seems they are more cruel-hearted, 
For men and their wives are brought there to be parted." 

Let us go northwards, and Mr. Elwin, who was Curate of 
Helmsley, Yorkshire, in 1872, stated that then the division 
of the sexes was preserved in a district church there, and 
had been customary in the parish church, until it was lost 
when the building was reseated about five years previously. 
In his letter he noted also a very curious fact, viz. that he 
once looked into a dissenting meeting-house near Cam- 
bridge, and found that even there the old church custom 
had been adopted, and that the men and women sat apart. 

That the usage was common in Cambridgeshire the 
following incident will show. On one occasion, the curate 
of Cottenham, in that county, stopped during his sermon 
as some one was talking, and said, " I hear a noise." The 
occupant of a seat on the women's side of the church said, 
'' Please, sir, it is not us." Curate, " I'm glad to hear it ; it 
will be the sooner over." x 

At Rye, in Sussex, where, in 1858, there were public 
1 Notes mid Queries (September 25, 1880), p. 254. 


seats in the " quire," the men took one side, and the women 
the other ; but there was no such division in the nave. 1 

Another illustration of the principle above referred to 
must be mentioned. The Rev. H. M. Fletcher, Rector of 
Grasmere, near Ambleside, informed me, a dozen years or 
more ago, that one of his then churchwardens remembered 
the pride which he felt on the day when, as a boy, he was 
allowed for the first time to pass from the women's side of 
the church, on which up to that time he had been used to 
sit with his mother, to the men's side. In his boyhood the 
separation of the sexes in church was sharply defined. 

The following instance will recall what was mentioned 
above as to the rule laid down in the Apostolical Constitu- 

Formerly it was the custom at Stanton Harcourt Church, 
Oxfordshire, for the men to enter by the north transept 
door, but the Rev. W. P. Walsh, the vicar, has told me that 
this door was walled up in 1845, when the whole of the 
church, with the exception of the chancel, was restored by 
Dr. Harcourt, the Archbishop of York. The north tran- 
sept door was at a considerable distance from the door into 
the nave, and had been very little used for some time pre- 
viously to its being closed. At St. Mary's, Kidlington, in 
the same county, the north doorway, though blocked, was 
up to fifty years ago, known as the " bachelors' door." 2 

Again, referring to ancient precedents, we find that, 
as regards the side, whether north or south, on which the 
men and women respectively were accustomed to sit, it 
varied in different parishes. Thus, at Marks Tey, in Essex, 
in the middle of this century it was the custom for all the 
women, excepting those belonging to the rector's family 
and some of the large farmers, to sit together on the south 
side of the church, apart from the men. Then at Weston- 

1 Ecclesiologisb, December, 1858. 

2 Ibid., August, 1844. 


birt, Gloucestershire, as the rector has informed me, the 
men take the south side of the aisle, and the women the 
north side in the body of the church. 

The Rev. W. J. Frere tells me that when he was visiting 
at Ferring in Essex some twenty or more years ago, the 
men sat on the north side and the women on the south side 
of the nave. The north aisle was occupied by the two 
sexes indiscriminately. The vicarage pew on the north 
side of the nave seemed to be the only exception to this 
general rule, and on the occasion on which my informant 
was present, it happened to be occupied by ladies — 

" I remember when I was a boy,'' writes Mr. F. K. 
Couldery of Abingdon, "a young couple coming into the 
church here on a Sunday afternoon and seating themselves 
together on the women's side. The man was soon turned 
out of his seat by the old verger, with the remark, uttered 
in an audible voice, ' We don't have no sweethearting 
here.' " 

One or two more instances will show that there was no 
definite ride as to the position in church which men and 
women respectively occupied. 

At Morchard Bishop, North Devon, the men took the 
north side and the women the south. The same rule held 
good at Hawkhurst in Dorsetshire, at Burpham in Sussex, 
and at West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and probably 
at dozens of other places. But then, on the other hand, at 
Addlethorpe and Ingoldwold, and numerous other parishes, 
the men occupied the south side and the women and girls 
the north. Thus it is evident that the principle was main- 
tained without there being absolute uniformity in practice. 
Of course any number of examples of the kind might be 
cited, but those mentioned will be quite sufficient. 

A less common arrangement connected with the separa- 
tion of men and women in church must be mentioned. 


Mr. F. H. Dickenson states that in Somersetshire it is 
customary for the men to sit in front and the women be- 
hind in church. He adds that he has seen a regulation put 
forth by a Diocesan Synod ordering this, but that he can- 
not lay his hand upon it. 

At East Pennard in Somersetshire, the men occupy the 
eastern part of the nave and the women the western part. 1 
Before the renovation of Ramsay Church, Huntingdon, 
the Rev. John Wise, vicar, has told me that the whole of 
the nave seats were given up to the poor, the men sitting 
on both sides in the more eastern portion and the women 
behind them. The same custom prevailed in certain 
churches near Daventry in Northamptonshire in 1846, and 
perhaps does still. 2 A gentleman, writing in 1873, states 
that he in that year witnessed the same arrangement in 
Barrington Church, near Cambridge. If necessary, I could 
mention other instances. At Bradford- on- Avon the men 
used to sit in a gallery, called the " country gallery," and 
the women in the body of the church. 

There is a very curious arrangement at Durham Cathe- 
dral, which Mr. J. T. Fowler says dates from time im- 
memorial. Any men who are present in the choir unoffici- 
ally occupy any of the stalls which happen to be vacant, 
but women have certain pews set apart for them alone be- 
hind, and to the east of the stalls. 

I will give one more example of the divisions of the sexes 
in church, as it introduces a new feature. Some twenty 
years ago, the Rev. Alfred N. Bull, late of Woollavington, 
Bridsrewater, wrote to a friend as follows: — " I have officiated 
in churches where the separation of the sexes was very 
striking from all the men wearing the rustic costume of 
white smocks, and all the women red cloaks and black 
bonnets. The nave of my father's very large church at 

1 Notes and Queries (June 7, 1873), p. 466. 

2 Ecclesiologist, February, 1846. 


Saffron Walden was always filled with red cloaks, the 
wearers each bringing a stool from the bottom of the church 
for her own use, and taking it back again after service." 

Let us nov\ T go on to inquire about another custom which 
was common amongst church-goers, viz. that of bowing to 
the altar on entering and leaving church. In late years, 
this has to a great extent fallen into disuse ; it was, how- 
ever, very commonly observed during the last century, and 
it still survives here and there amongst ourselves. It need 
scarcely be said that bowing to the altar is precisely analo- 
gous to the usage of the Peers bowing to the vacant throne 
in the House of Lords. It was recommended by Convoca- 
tion in 1640. I fancy that in olden times it was more 
usual in country places than in towns, though there is 
evidence in abundance to show that the practice was ob- 
served in certain cathedrals and college chapels. 

Thus a writer in the middle of the last century makes a 
bitter moan because, " in one of the greatest cathedrals 
of this nation, the reader, going to the lectern to read 
the lesson, made a sort of obeisance to the altar, but in- 
stantly whirling about, made another at least as profound 
reverence to the stalls." His complaint was that the same 
reverence was shown to the dignitaries as was shown to 
God. " Shall," said he, " viri ecclesiastici, as some of them 
plainly do, refuse to pay this reverence Domino Deo, et 
Altare Ejus, and yet sacrilegiously assume it to themselves ? 
Is this our zeal against Popery, to affect the very badge of 
Antichrist, who, as God, sitteth in the temple of God V' 1 

A later correspondent to the same periodical, and one 
who held quite different opinions, scoffs at what he calls 
" Altar Worship," and he speaks of it as an ill custom at 
cathedrals. 2 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, Nov., 1748. 

2 Ibid., Feb., 1749. 


This " ill custom " is still continued in some of our 
cathedral churches. Mr. W. A. J. Miller tells me that at 
Carlisle, when the bishop is present at a service, the canons 
conduct him to the throne, and the bishop pauses before 
going to his seat, and bows first to the altar, and then to 
the members of the chapter. 

As to the habit of members of our universities making a 
reverence to the altar in their college chapels, a few ex- 
amples only need be given. The Rev. W. Fairlie Clarke 
has told me that at Christ Church, Oxford, the dean and 
canons used to stop at the chancel door, and to turn round 
to the East and bow as they left the building. 

And similarly, at Balliol, which in our day is certainly 
not distinguished for any exceptional regard for church 
traditions. The Rev. W. AVright, addressing me from 
Bournemouth some years ago, wrote : — " My father, who 
was elected a Fellow of Balliol in 1784, told me that Dr. 
Leigh, who had been head of the college about half a cen- 
tury, always observed the custom of bowing to the altar 
both on entering and leaving chapel." 

In like manner the usas;e was known at Cambridge. Mr. 
Ingleby of St. Mary's Hospital, Ilford, has told me that a 
friend of his, a very old inhabitant of Cambridge, well 
remembered that Dr. Wood, who was master of St. John's 
College from 1815 to 1839, always, on entering and leaving 
chapel, used to turn round and bow towards the altar. 

The Rev. J. Fenton of Ings, Kendal, stated to me that 
an old woman who lived in that parish always used to make 
a low courtesy to the altar before going to her seat in 
church. On referring to her custom one day she said, 
" Lord bless you, parson, if my father had seen that we did 
not make our reverence he'd a' been vexed for a week.'' 
Mr. Fenton added that this reminded him of the time when, 
as a lad, he went to Langdale Chapel (1827-31), for the old 
people all did it there. The above-mentioned old woman, 


as well as others, always courtesied low at the Gloria. The 
practice of bowing, my informant says, he himself learnt 
from the people of Laxey, in the Isle of Man, where he had 
his first curacy in 1849. As to this custom I shall have 
something to sa3' lower down. 

Bowing, takino- the word in its strict sense, was not the 
usage in some places where the principle was carried out. 
This the Rev. H. R. Bramley has told me that at Addingham, 
Wharfdale, where he was brought up, the men used to 
strike their "toppins" or foreheads as they came into 
church. My informant has told me, when he inquired 
about the custom, that the answer was simply that " it was 
the proper thing to do." 

Similarly, I learnt from the Vicar of Garton in the Wolds, 
from 1850 to 1859, that it was always the custom there for 
the women to drop a slight courtesy, and the men to bow 
or touch their foreheads, turning towards the East when 
they entered church. They imagined that this was an act 
of respect to the clergyman, and were quite ignorant of its 
real signification. A like unconsciousness affected the 
minds of the dwellers at Hilton, in Cleveland, in former 
days, when they bowed or courtesied to the reading-desk, 
whether occupied or not, before entering their seats. The 
Ven. J. Bartholemew, who was archdeacon of Barnstaple, 
and died in 1866, always bowed to the altar in his church 
at Morchard Bishop, North Devon. He said that he had 
learnt it from his father, the Rev. Robert Bartholemew. 

In addition to the customary reverence on entering 
or leaving church, I am told by a former curate of Skipsea, 
Yorkshire, that there the communicants on going to and 
coming from the altar always either bowed, plucking their 
forelocks, or dropped a courtesy. 

As a note illustrative of the custom concerning which I 
am now writing, it is well worth while mentioning that the 
Rev. E. P. Cole tells me that he has in his possession a 


"Companion to the Altar" bound up with a "Book of 
Common Prayer " dated 1770, which contains the following 
directions for communicants : — " As soon as you conveniently 
may, after receiving the cup, if there be a numerous com- 
munion, rise from your knees, bow towards the altar, and 
retire to your seat." 

We have seen how bowing to the East on entering church 
has been misunderstood by simple folk who have been in 
the habit of practising it. A clergyman, who has the good 
sense to enjoy a story which tells against himself, has put 
the following on record. 

" Nearly forty years ago, i.e. about 1850, I officiated 
amongst a simple people on the borders of Worcestershire 
and Herefordshire, where the practice of bowing to the 
altar was not uncommon ; but to me, a young clergyman 
from the neighbourhood of London, it was novel, and I 
imagined myself to be the object of reverence. I re- 
monstrated with an aged parishioner, who gave me to under- 
stand that the reverence was made to the Almighty and 
not to a fellow-creature. Her decided manner at the time 
is vividly impressed upon my mind. A neighbour, to whom 
I recently related the anecdote, remarked that the same 
mistake was once made by H.R.H. the late Prince Consort, 
and that it met with a similar rebuff. 1 

The Rev. J. H. Overton of Legbourne has been good 
enough to send me an amusing illustration of the common- 
ness of the reverential practice which we are considering. 
He tells me of a pamphlet written in 1700, which is very 
far from being a High Church publication. It is entitled 
" Mrs. Abigail, or a Female Skirmish between the Wife of a 
County Squire and the Wife of a D.D." Speaking of the 
subserviency of the poorer clergy to those who were at that 
time of higher social rank, the following occurs : — " This 
little Sir John (the chaplain), always very mannerly, arose 
1 Notes and Queries, August 13, 1878. 


at the serving of the second course, and with a bow, as low 
as to the altar, took with him the plate he had ate on," 
etc. etc. 

Everybody is in the habit of saying some sort of brief 
prayer upon taking his place in church, and no doubt some 
future writer on " Church Folklore '' will record as an 
odd habit of the nineteenth century the custom of men 
" smelling their hats " on first entering their seats — a 
practice now happily almost obsolete. The Rev. R. H. 
Bramley tells me that formerly an old man at Skipton in 
Yorkshire used to say his preparatory prayer facing round 
in turn to each corner of his pew. Is it possible that this 
queer usage was somehow connected with the old familiar 

formula ? — 

" Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 
Bless the bed that I lie on ; 
Four corners to my bed, 
Four angels round me spread. 
Two at foot and two at head, 
And four to carry me when I'm dead." 

Let me ask my readers to go with me a step farther. 
Everybody knows that outward expressions of reverence 
to inanimate representations of sacred things are by many 
in our own day regarded as alien to the spirit of the 
Church of England. I am indebted to the Rev. Arthur 
Ingleby for the following extract from a treatise against 
Popery, by Archbishop Wake, who, previous to his advance- 
ment to the Episcopate, had been chaplain to William III. 
The paragraph was as follows : — 

" When the pictures of God the Father, and of God the 
Holy Ghost, so directly contrary to the Second Command- 
ment and to St. Paul's doctrine, shall be taken away, and 
those of our Saviour and the blessed Saints be, with all 
necessary cautions, rendered truly the books, not the snares 


of the ignorant, then will we respect the images of our 
Saviour and the Blessed Virgin. And as some of us now bow 
down towards the altar, and all of us are enjoined to do so 
at the name of our Lord Jesus, so will we not fail to testify 
all due respect to His representation." x 

Another reverential usage which appears to have been 
widely spread in former days was that of giving an outward 
expression of homage when the verse of the Venite, " 
come let us worship and fall down," etc., was recited. It 
was formerly the custom for the dean and canons at Dur- 
ham to kneel down in their stalls when these words were 
sung. 2 Dean Cornwallis, Dr. Durell, and Dr. Prosser used 
to do this. Their immediate successors only bowed, and 
then the custom disappeared entirely. At St. John's, Edin- 
burgh, about 1846, the whole congregation knelt at the 
words cited above, and the well-known chant, Purcell in G, 
was changed into the minor key for that verse only. 

The late Canon Humble of St. Ninian's, Perth, told me 
that throughout Scotland old people frequently bow or 
courtesy when they come to the verse referred to above. I 
fancy that it was mainly a north country custom, for 
amongst all the instances which I have collected, only one 
relates to the south of England. The Rev. G. Woolcombe 
writes that when, in 1854, he was curate of Thorverton, near 
Collumpton in North Devon, there was an old woman who 
could neither read nor write, and who must have been 
ignorant of all ritual matters, who used to courtesy at the 
verse in the Venite of which we are speaking. 

There are several other parts of the church service where 
outward tokens of reverence were wont to be rendered by 
the congregation in olden times. For example, a lady at 
Swansea has told me that at St. Mary's Church, Brecknock, 

1 " Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England,'' p. 18. 

2 Notes and Queries, 4th Series, vii. , p. 280. 


bowing at the Gloria was formerly the custom of the older 
and poorer members of the congregation. Also, that at the 
thrice repeated " Holy " in the Te Beum the old women 
used to courtesy three times. This, adds my informant, was 
continued till within the last thirty years. Again, the 
Kev. R Dunn, who was Vicar of Ampney Crucis in Glou- 
cestershire from 18GD to 1882, writing twenty years ago, 
stated that the old women there courtesy at the Gloria, and 
at every mention of the Name of the Three Persons of the 
Blessed Trinity. At St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, twenty 
years ago, it was customary for most of the old people to 
bow at the words, " Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ," 
in the Te Deum. I cannot say whether the practice is still 
kept up. 

A correspondent, whose name I have unfortunately lost, 
wrote to me in 1880 to say that when lie was at Cuddesdon, 
the present Bishop of Lincoln, who was chaplain and assis- 
tant lecturer there from 1858 to 1863, told hiin that at 
Stone, Dartfoid, Kent (so far as my correspondent's memory 
served hiin as to the name of the village), it was customary, 
when Psalm cl. occurred in the church service, for the whole 
of the congregation to say it together. 

A few words must be said about turning to the East at 
the Creeds. I was told by the late Canon Humble that in 
his younger days all the congregations in the city of Durham 
observed this practice, and that he believed it was general 
throughout the country. In the city it was more notice- 
able from the dreadful way in which most churches were 
seated. The pews to the east of the desk and pulpit were 
arranged so that the people might face the reader or 
preacher. Thus the occupants had to turn riodit round. 
At Grewell, near Odiham, Hampshire, before the church 
was altered, there was a man's gallery at the eastern end of 
the nave, the seats facing westwards, and the same custom 
prevailed. At Alton, Hants, members of the congregation. 


whose seats faced westwards turned to the East at the 
Gospel as well as at the Creed. Mr. F. J. Ames, the post- 
master at Crondall, tells me that this was discontinued iu 
1 859. Probably the church was reseated in that year, and 
the whole congregation t'aced East. 

All must have noticed that in our churches now almost 
everyone bows or courtesies when the Holy Name is men- 
tioned in the Creed, but only a few make a " reverence " 
when it occurs in other parts of the service when the people 
are standing or sitting, as during the hymns and lessons. 
Bearing upon this, the Rev. A. G. Loftie says that in 
Cumberland it is the custom for every one to bow at the 
Holy Name at funerals, at baptisms, and at the Holy Com- 
munion when receiving, though they may not do it at any 
other time. 

The custom of bowing at the Gloria mentioned above 
seems to have been very commonly observed in past days, 
and the " reverence " usually took place when the word 
" Son " was pronounced. In relation to this observance the 
Hev. G. Symonds, of Thaxted Vicarage, Essex, has drawn 
my attention to a book which enjoyed very considerable 
popularity at the beginning of the last century. It was 
entitled, " Devotions in the Ancient Way of Offices, Re- 
formed by a Person of Quality." The name of " George 
Hickes, D.D.,'' appears on the title-page, as editor or sponsor, 
I presume, and in 1712 it had reached its fourth edition. 
After a direction to say the Psalms standing, it proceeds : — 
" At the end of every Psalm let A say ' Glory,' etc., and B 
'As it was,' etc., both continuing to stand, and showing 
some other sign of worship by bowing the head or lifting 
up the eyes to Heaven. For in all devotion the exterior 
worship is never to be neglected, and those stiff, morose, 
and saturnine votists, who are so sparing of bodily adora- 
tion in our most solemn services, refusing to stand at the 
singing of psalms and anthems, or to bow to God before 


His holy altar, act against the common notions of mankind 
and the nature of divine service." 

In some places it was the custom for the congregation to 
turn to the East at the Gloria. This was the case at the 
old church in Manchester, now the cathedral, and I believe 
is still retained. The Rev. L. P. Welland states that at 
Talaton Church, near Ottery St. Mary, Devon, it was 
formerly the custom for people in church to turn to the 
West when the singing began, but to turn to the East at 
the doxologies. This usage was dropped through the in- 
fluence of a churchwarden, who, in a late rector's time, 
attempted to put a stop to the custom of turning to the 
West. This was in 1857 or 1858. But his well-meant 
action resulted in the people turning to the West as before, 
but not turning to the East at the doxologies. Since that 
date the church has been repaired, the gallery removed, 
and the fiddles and flutes abolished. The organ is at the 
west end of the church, but, nevertheless, the people are 
gradually leaving off the custom of turning to it. 

It is by no means uncommon in our own day for con- 
gregations to stand up when the Lord's Prayer occurs in 
the Second Lesson, but a lady residing at Bagborough, near 
Taunton, has told me that at the old Parish Church there 
was a custom for people to kneel on such an occasion. 
According to Mr. W. J. Hewitt, this usage was observed in 
Exeter Cathedral in years past. 1 In Scotland, as I was in- 
formed by the late Canon Humble, in churches of the non- 
juring type, the people rise when (a) the Lord's Prayer, (b) 
the Scriptural Canticles, and (c) the Angelic Salutation are 
read in the Second Lesson. To this I may add a statement 
that in Scotland it is a general custom in Episcopalian 
churches for the people to stand when the Ten Command- 
ments are read in the Lesson for the day. 2 

1 Notes anl Queries, June 17, 1854. 
3 Ibid. 


Another out-of-the-way custom may be noted, but I have 
only two examples of it, and it was probably not very 
commonly observed. This was for the congregation to 
kneel at the " Ascription " after the sermon. This was, I 
am told, the case at Hexham in former days, and Mr. F. J. 
Ames tells me that the custom prevailed at Crondall 
Church, Hants, until about the year 18G1. 

In well-ordered churches it is now the custom for the 
congregation to stand when the clergy and choir come from 
the vestry to the stalls. This is doubtless the revival of 
an ancient usage, for the Rev. W. Wright has told me that 
at Hoby, in Leicestershire, where he was in 1843, it was the 
custom for all the congregation to stand up when the offi- 
ciating clergyman entered the church. He further stated 
that at Marks Tey, in Essex, in 1833, the people always 
waited for the rector to precede them in going out of 

Akin to this, I learn from Mr. F. K. Couldrey of Abing- 
don, that formerly, as he has heard from old parishioners, 
ifc was the custom at the Parish Church there for the con- 
gregation to rise whenever the Mayor and Corporation 
attended the church in their official capacity. 

The following note has a thoroughly p re-Reformation 
flavour. In the Eccleswlogist of November, 1845, we 
read : — " A correspondent assures us that, until very lately, 
it was the custom for the people at Stringston in Somer- 
setshire to do obeisance to the churchyard cross." 

There is, or was, an odd custom at Amptney Crucis, 
Cirencester. The Rev. R. Dunn, writing early in the last 
decade but one, stated that at the club feast on the Wed- 
nesday in Whitsun week, all the members of the club 
took of their hats on entering the churchyard, and did not 
put them on again after service until they reached the road 
outside of the precincts of the church. This was never 
done by anyone at any other time. 


Let us now go to consider the question of daily prayers 
in our churches in olden times. There can be no 
doubt as to the intention of the Church of England in re- 
gard to this matter. The words : " The order for morning 
and evening prayer daily to be said and used throughout 
the year," cannot mean that it is intended to be said on 
Sundays only. Nevertheless, except in cathedrals and 
college chapels, I think it would be difficult to name a 
church in which the rule had been strictly observed since 
our present Book of Common Prayer was taken into 
general use in 1662 after the last revision. There may be 
cases where a special benefaction existed on condition that 
daily prayer was said in this or that church ; but, outside 
of this, if any one can give me a trustworthy instance of 
gratuitous observance of the rubric I will thankfully 
acknowledge my error. 

It is not a little curious to examine the published 
charges and pastoral letters issued by the bishops in the past. 
The reproofs and suggestions contained in them give us a 
tolerably fair notion of the condition of church matters in 
olden times. Amongst other things they show how church - 
manship varied in different dioceses. Thus, by way of 
instance, in " A Discourse to his Clergy," by Bishop 
Sprat of Rochester, in 1695, the recitation of daily service 
is taken for granted ; whereas Bishop Turner of Ely, in 
1686, told his clergy :— " There is one thing more I do 
exceedingly long to see introduced, and would fain obtain 
that which the rubrick, in the true intents of it, still exacts 
i if you, — to have morning and evening prayer every day of 
the week in your church, if you live upon your cure 
or keep a curate upon it, and not extreme far from the 
church. And if by any means in the world you can prevail 
with a few of your parishioners, which, sure, cannot be 
wanting in most parishes, where there are some devout 
gentry or persons of quality, or at least some piously dis- 


posed people ; and to all such I could almost kneel 
most earnestly, begging of them, as they love God and their 
own and other Christian souls, that they will do their part 
towards the promoting of so good a work, perhaps the 
best and most publick good they can ever do in the places 
where they live; and where there are either poor widows, 
who may well afford to be at prayers for those whose pen- 
sioners they are ; or where there are any children taught 
by a schoolmaster or mistress ; there it is very hard if 
some little daily congregation might not be found would 
but the minister attempt to labour it with as much appli- 
cation and zeal as the thing mightily deserves. Nay, 
better, the minister, with or without his parish-clerk, and 
with some of his own family, that he may say, ' when two 
■or three are gathered together in Thy name,' than not to 
begin this worthy design of prayers twice a day in your 
churches; but where that cannot be for the distance of 
your houses, there to have them without fail in your 
private dwelling." 

I have given this extract at length, because, if read 
between the lines, it supplies some sketchy notion of the 
state of our parishes at the end of the seventeenth century ; 
but chiefly because it gives expression to the thoroughly 
religious sentiments of one of those noble bishops who 
refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, 
•and suffered deprivation and poverty rather than do violence 
to their consciences. 

The urgent expostulation of Bishop Turner does not 
seem to have been of much avail, for a very few years later 
we find his successor, Bishop Patrick, again speaking 
seriously to the clergy in the diocese of Ely with reference 
to the same subject. In a charge of his we find him 
■appealing to them in the following terms :— " The very 
first thing in the Book of Common Prayer deserves to be 
seriously considered, where you are enjoined to say daily 


the morning and evening prayer, either privately or openly. 
It is possible, I am sure, to observe one part of this injunc- 
tion, if you cannot observe the other. That is, if you can- 
not procure a congregation to meet daily in the church, yet 
you may, and therefore ought to read the service of the 
Church in your own families, either privately or openly, 
not being hindered by sickness or some other urgent cause, 
which cannot happen every day." 

It is worth noting that it was the " High Church " clergy 
who argued in favour of daily services. While Richard 
Baxter considered that their recitation was something more 
than waste of time — that it was a hindrance to more im- 
portant duties — men like Sancroft, Beveridge, and Nelson 
were strongly convinced of its importance. There was, of 
course, a strong High Church reaction in Queen Anne's 
reign, and a very remarkable expression of enthusiasm in 
favour of High Church principles was manifested. I do 
not know anything more remarkable in post Reformation 
history than the record of week-day services which Pater- 
son has handed down to us in his " Pietas Londinensis," and 
which will be found at the end of this volume. 1 Of course 
readers must make allowance for the change of circum- 
stances which has taken place. With the exception of 
" caretakers " and " housekeepers," there are very few 
regular dwellers in the city now, and it is but natural that, 
with all our modern church activity, the list given in (say) 
the " Tourists' Church Guide " of daily services in the city 
now should compare unfavourably with Paterson's record- 
But to speak again of the days that are past, it is certain 
that, after the overwrought pressure of enthusiasm in 
Queen Anne's reign, the daily service dropped more and 
more into disuse. Thus Fielding, in "Joseph Andrews," 
published in 1742, relates that, on a certain saint's day,, 

1 Appendix I. 



there was no one in the church except Paisun Adams, his 
wife, the clerk, and a servant. 

Wednesday and Friday services remained popular for 
some time after the daily service had to a great extent 
been given up. Mr. Abbey 1 tells us that Archbishop 
Seeker, in a charge delivered by him in 1761, said that 
there should always be prayers on those days, and John 
Wesley, in 1744, wrote advocating the importance of 
observing Wednesday and Friday. By degrees, however, 
the number of churches in which prayers' were said publicly 
on these days dwindled down. 

The Rev. J. H. Overton, in a letter to myself, writes : — 
"I find that week-day services, especially on Wednesdays 
and Fridays, were more frequent, even in country places, 
quite late in the eighteenth century, than is commonly 
supposed. For instance, William Cowper first conceived 
the desire of making Mr. Unwin's acquaintance from seeing 
him every day at the daily services at Huntingdon Church. 
This was about the middle of the century. I was also 
much surprised to find that William Law, High Church- 
man as he was, always had some neighbours to dine with 
him on Fridays (the day which I thought would have been 
the last he would have chosen for hospitality) ; but I found 
his reason was that he thus induced them to go to church 
with him at King's Cliffe, where there was always service 
on Wednesdays and Fridays, at least as late as 1761.'' 

No doubt the publication of Robert Nelson's, " Fasts and 
Festivals," in 1704, had a great deal to do with the better 
observance of the holy days and seasons in the early part 
of the last century, and the influence of the book seems to 
have continued for a long time. Lent, too, so far as we can 
judge, was fairly well observed till the end of the century, 
and there are those still living who can remember when it 

1 Abbey and Overton : vol. ii., p. 446. 


was considered the correct thing for ladies to wear mourning 
during the forty days' fast. 

But we cannot wonder that the lay folk had no very 
great regard for prayers alone when so many of the clergy 
themselves considered their recitation as fit only for 
assistant curates, and quite below the dignity of rectors 
and other such exalted personages. Let anyone try to 
imagine how things must have been when it was necessary 
for a Bishop of Rochester to have said in a public charge 
to his clergy, as Sprat did in 1695: — "Wherefore, I sa3 r 
again, this very commendable skill of devout and decent 
reading of the holy offices of the Church, is so far from 
being a superficial or perfunctory work, a mean or vulvar 
accomplishment, or a subordinate lower administration only 
fit for a curate, that it deserves to be placed among your 
ministerial endowments of greater superiority and pie- 
eminence." Quite at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, Bishop Bull of St. David's found it necessary to 
warn candidates for Holy Orders against an irreverent and 
careless recitation of the Church Prayers — a warning, by 
the way, which might usefully be given now, as might 
also the advice given by Gibson, Bishop of London in 1724, 
to candidates for Holy Orders, as to the management of 
the voice. As to the charge of which I am speaking, per- 
haps the most noteworthy, from our own modern point of 
view, is the part devoted to what is called "Psalmody," 
or, as the bishop phrases it, " The Singing Psalms." His 
lordship draws attention to the fact that he has provided a 
course to serve for sis months in order to help the clergy 
in their selection, and he especially begs them not to leave 
the choice in the hands of the parish clerk. 

It is difficult, if not impossible, to state what Bishop Gibson 
meant by "The Singing Psalms," whether " Sternhold and 
Hopkins," or "Tate and Brady." The so-called metrical 
version of the Psalter which is commonly known as 


" Sternliold and Hopkins" seems to have come into use 
about 15C2, and to have continued for over two hundred 
years. I believe it to be a fact that even so late as 1828 a 
new edition of this version was published with the idea of 
its being used in churches. That by Tate and Brady was 
issued about 1698, but it was far from popular at tirst, and 
it took something like a hundred years before it secured 
anything like a foothold in the country. Whether it was 
an improvement on the " Old Version " — for Tate and 
Brady was called the "New Version" — is a matter of opinion. 
To the present generation the two versions are equally 
unknown, but I can well remember in my younger days 
the Tate and Brady Psalms being sung in country churches. 
It may be worth while to give an instance of the style in 
which the Psalter was rendered by the then Poet Laureate 
and his colleague. Let us take by way of example Psalm 
xli. 6, which runs thus : — " And if he come to see me he 
speaketh vanity, and his heart conceiveth falsehood within 
himself, and when he cometh forth he telleth it." This is 
made to apply to the scandal that was in those days 
commonly supposed to be connected with the conversation 
at morning calls — five o'clock teas had not then been in- 
vented. Thus : — 

" Suppose they formal visits make, 
It's all but empty show, 
They gather mischief in their hearts, 
And vent it where they go." 

The teaching was, of course, delightfully direct, but whether 
it exactly represented what the Psalmist meant is another 

Those who have read Isaac Williams' Autobiography 
may remember how he speaks of making acquaintance 
with the Parisian Breviary, and of his being especially 


taken with the hymns. This was in 1829. Some of theso 
he translated without any idea of publication, but simply 
for his own personal edification. In connection with this 
he speaks of the " general horror of unauthorised hymns " 
which prevailed among church people at that time. 

Of course we must take the date of the above extract 
into account ; but there is something very funny in the idea 
that because by some means or other the " New Version '' 
had obtained the privilege of insertion at the end of prayer 
books printed in the early part of the century, the doggerel 
was "authorised " by the Church. Would any one suppose 
that because " Hymns Ancient and Modern " are often 
printed at the end of modern prayer books, this collection 
of hymns had been " authorised " by any recognised 
" authority " of the English Church ? The idea is absurd. 

Then as to the music to which these rhymed psalms 
were to be sung, the bishop remarks : — " You should en- 
deavour to bring your whole congregation, men and women, 
young and old, or as many as you can, to sing five or six of 
the plainest and best known tunes in a decent, regular, and 
uniform manner, so as to be able to bear a part in them in 
the public service of the Church. 

But what will seem to my modern readers the quaintest 
Episcopal suggestion is to come. The bishop goes on to 
say : — " Which last advantage of bringing the whole con- 
gregation to join in this exercise will be best obtained, 
especially in country parishes, by directing the clerk to 
read the psalm line by line as they go on, by which means 
they who cannot read will yet be able to bear a part in 
the singing, and even they who can neither read nor sin^ 
will receive from the matter of the psalm both instruction 
in their duty, and improvement in their devotion." It will 
be difficult for young people of the present day to imagine 
the possibility of such a barbarous custom as that indicated 
above, yet it lasted till a comparatively recent date. I 


remember having, as a boj', heard the lines o£ Tate and 
Brady given out one by one, and thinking the effect 

In these days we laugh at the idea of such a metrical 
version, or rather perversion, of the Psalter being sung in 
church, but it ought to be remembered that the well-known 
hymn which is introduced into most modern " collections," 
" Through all the changing scenes of life," is simply the 
rendering by Tate and Brady of the thirty-fourth psalm. 
We are all familiar with "Oh, Lord of Hosts, the mighty 
Lord," but few who sing it know that it is merely a 
rhyming version of the eighty-fourth psalm, from the pens 
of these now despised poetasters. 

A good work, however, was done by the introduction of 
some hymns at the end of the " New Version." Thus, " To 
God be glory, peace on earth," is, I believe, a translation of 
an ancient hymn. The favourite Christmas hymn, " While 
shepherds watched their flocks by night," was also included, 
and at the end of an old prayer book in my possession con- 
taining the " New Version," I find Charles Wesley's hymn 
with the first line ill-advisedly altered as we see it now in 
every collection except " The Peoples' Hymnal." The 
author wrote, " Hark how all the welkin rings." Who was 
guilty of changing this into the comparatively feeble, 
" Hark the herald angels sing," I cannot say. 

If with our present habits and experience we could be 
thrown back into the past, we should find various other 
usages which would appear not only strange, but exceed- 
ingly irreverent. So far as I can gather, it was very much 
the custom before the reign of Charles I. for men to wear 
their hats in church. This was not altogether brought in 
by the refugees, who had before this time returned with all 
sorts of objectionable ideas contracted from the continental 
Protestants with whom they had mingled, but it had been 
handed down to post-Reformation people from early times. 


Although this irreverent habit had to a great extent died 
out before 1689, when William of Orange came to the 
throne the Dutchman brought various reprehensible 
foreign customs into this country. Amongst these was 
that just mentioned. He gave up the habit when he found 
that it caused offence, but though he remained bareheaded 
during the prayers, he put his hat on for the sermon. 

It may be worth while, in passing, to remind Protestant 
teetotalers that it was William of Orange who gave an im- 
petus to the distillation and consumption of ardent spirits 
in this country, and recommended it in the House of Lords 
as a means — by taxation, I presume — of increasing the 
revenue. Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, forbade the 
distillation of malt except in small quantities for medicinal 
purposes. 1 

There is reason to believe that it was no uncommon 
thing for ladies of rank to bring their hawks into church, 
and to have their pet dogs following them in pre-Reforma- 
tion times. It would appear that then the men were wont 
to wear their hats, although they generally, but not in- 
variably, uncovered at the " Elevation of the Hosts." 
Alexander Barclay, " the monk of Ely," in his " Ship of 
Fools,'' published in 1509, tells us that some did not con- 
descend to even so much reverence as that : — 

"And when our Lorde in consecrate in forme of breade, 
Thereby walks a knave, his bonet on his head." 

Again and again in the Spectator, as Mr. Abbey reminds 
us, the irreverence common in Addison's day is severely 
commented on. One or two notes will be enough. If a 
stranger came to a church to preach it seems to have been 
a common thing for the members of the congregation to 
make gestures to one another if there happened to be any- 
1 Palin's " History," p. 218. 


thing peculiar about his intonation or style, while the 
ladies would giggle behind their fans. 1 Or again, we have 
a description of the demeanour of a friend of Will Honey- 
comb: — "He seldom comes in till prayers are about half 
over, and when he has entered his seat (instead of joining 
with the congregation) he devoutly holds his hat before his 
face for three or four moments, then bows to all his 
acquaintances, sits down, takes a pinch of snuff, and spends 
the remaining time in surveying the congregation." Then 
again, in the Guardian, Steele, quite at the beginning of 
the last century — although, as Mr. Abbey remarks, he was 
very indignant at the Examiner having remarked upon 
the impropriety of the daughter of the Earl of Nottingham 
(who was almost mentioned by name) amusing herself with 
knotting in St. James' Chapel during divine service — 
reproves, just as the writer in the Spectator had done, the 
flirting and jaunty whisperings that often went on in 
church. The following passage from the sixth satire in 
Young's "Love of Fame," published about the middle of 
last century, illustrates this, while reminding us of some of 
the delightful photographic pictures of character which 
William Law, some twenty years before, had given in his 
" Serious Call " :— 

" Lavinia is polite, but not profane ; 
To church as constant as to Drury Lane, 
She decently in form pays Heaven its due, 
And makes a civil visit to her pew. 
Her lifted fan, to give a solemn air, 
Conceals her face, which passes for a prayer, 
Courtsies to courtsies then with grace succeed, 
Not one the fair omits but at the Creed." 

1 Anyone going now into the American church in the Avenue de 
l'Alma, Paris, will see Japanese fans lying about in the seats along- 
side of the soft sofa cushions with which the occupants furnish their 


The satire contained in the last line must not be missed. 

A great deal more might be related as to the irreverent 
conduct of some church-goers in days of old, but it is not a 
pleasant subject to dwell upon, although it is necessary in 
a volume like this to say something about it. 



It can scarcely be doubted that it was the original inten- 
tion that the pre-Reformation custom of a daily celebration 
of the Holy Eucharist should be continued in the English 
Church after she had freed herself from the shackles of 
Rome. The fact that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, which 
belong only to the Eucharistic office, were to serve for the 
whole week seems decisive on this point. The words at 
the end of the Preface in the Prayer Book are as follows : — 
" Note also that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel appointed 
for the Sunday shall serve all the week after, where it is 
not in the Book otherwise ordered." This is in thorough 
accord with the rubric in the first prayer book of Edward 
VI., where we have — " In cathedral churches and other 
places where there is daily Communion, it be sufficient to 
read this exhortation above written (the long one in the 
Communion service) once a month. And in parish churches 
upon week days it may be left unsaid." This practice may 
have been more or less kept up during the five years of 
Edward's life, as also with the re-introduction of Popery 
under Mary. The real wrench came with the return of the 
Marian exiles, when Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558. 
The flood of Protestantism and irreverence which they 
brought back with them from the Continent must, under 
the very abnormal condition of things, have had a most 
baneful influence, and have done much to hinder customs 
which were really Catholic. Let anyone try to imagine 
what the religious mind of the country could have been 
when it was possible for Scambler, who was Bishop of 




Peterborough from 1561 to 1585, to lay down a rule that a 
day should be set apart quarterly for general Communion 
—that there should be two Communions, one at five for 
servants and officers, with a sermon of an hour, to end at 
eight ; the other for masters and dames, to begin at nine 
the same day, with like sermon, and to end at twelve. 1 

But there were bishops of a higher type than Scambler, 
bad as were the times. Overall was consecrated at the be- 
ginning of the following century, and Cosin became Bishop 
of Durham in 1660. Dealing with the question of the pro- 
priety of a daily Eucharist, Bishop Cosin says, "Better 
were it to endure the absence of the people than for the 
minister to neglect the usual and daily sacrifice of the 
Church by which all people, whether they be there or no, 
reap so much benefit. And this was the opinion of my 
lord and master, Dr. Overall. 2 

And here comes in a curious fact as regards the difference 
of ideas entertained by really good men as to the frequency 
with which the Holy Eucharist ought to be celebrated. 
George Herbert, in his " Country Parson," published in 1632, 
says:—" The parson celebrates it (the Holy Eucharist), if not 
duly once a month, yet at least five or six times in the year> 
as at Easter, Christmas, and Whitsuntide, afore and after har- 
vest, and at the beginning of Lent." To us it seems very odd, 
if we read this paragraph to the end, for the writer goes on 
to say : — " And this he doth not only for the benefit of the 
work, but also for the discharge of the churchwardens, 
who being to present all that receive not thrice a year, if 
there be but three Communions, neither can the people so 
order their affairs as to receive just at those times, nor the 
churchwardens so well take notice who receive thrice, and 
who not." 3 

1 Jeafferson's "Book of the Clergy," vol. ii., p. 33. 
3 Quoted by J. H. Blunt. 
3 Chapter xxii. 


The following item seems even more strange if we take 
into account the date when Bishop Andrewes died (1626), 
and his well-known devotional habits when living. Bishop 
Buckridge of Rochester preached the funeral sermon for 
his brother of Winchester, in which the following passage 
occurs : — " He was Dr. Andrewes in the schools ; Bishop 
Andrewes in the diocese ; and Saint Andrewes in the closet. 
After he had an Episcopal house with a chapel, he kept 
monthly Communions inviolably, though he had received 
at court the same month." Mr. Benham, in commenting 
upon these words, says in his " History of the Diocese of 
Winchester : " — x " This is from his funeral sermon by Bishop 
Buckridge, or one would imagine some mistake. But the 
obvious intention of the Church to observe weekly Com- 
munion seems to have been greatly neglected all through 
the seventeenth century. A General Winsor left the interest 
of £100 to two churches in Southampton to defray the 
expenses of a monthly Communion. In 1718 there were 
only eleven churches in London where there was a weekly 
celebration." 2 

As I remarked above, good men who lived in bad times 
greatly regretted the decadence of the custom of which 
I am treating. Mr. Abbey writes : — '' Bull, Sherlock, 
Beveridge, and other Anglican divines, who belonged more 
to the seventeenth than to the eighteenth century, had 
expressed much concern at the infrequency of celebrations. 
of the Eucharist as compared with a former age. ' Now/ 
said Beveridge, ' people have so far departed from primitive 
usage that they think once a week is too often.' ... In 
1741 w T e find Seeker admonishing the clergy of the diocese 
of Oxford that they were bound to administer thrice in the 

iS. P. O.K., p. 187. 

2 At the present clay in the city of London there is a weekly cele- 
bration in twenty-eight churches ; in nine there are two celebrations, 
each Sunday, and in eighteen a celebration on holy days as well. 


year, that there ought to be an administration during the 
long interval between Whitsuntide and Christmas. 'And if,' 
he adds somewhat dubiously, ' you can afterwards advance 
from a quarterly Communion to a monthly one, I make no 
doubt but you will.' . . . But Bishop Tomline might well 
feel it a matter for just complaints that, being at St. Paul's 
on Easter Day, 1800, in that vast and noble cathedral no 
more than six persons were found at the Table of the 
Lord." i 

As regards details in connection with the Eucharistic 
service, a fact must have struck those who have looked into 
the matter as being odd. I do not remember to have met 
with an instance of the " chasuble " being mentioned in 
the seventeenth century as a distinctive altar vestment in 
use. Everybody knows that large numbers of the higher 
class of churchmen in their writings asserted the legality of 
the ornaments rubric, but as regards actual practical use 
the cope only is mentioned. There is only one way that 
I can see by which this can be explained, and that is by 
the presumption that in those days the term " cope " was 
used to signify the altar vestment as well as that which 
was employed at procession and lower church functions — 
in other words that the " cope " included the chasuble. 
As regards the cope, properly so called, it would appear 
that copes were widely used before the Restoration, but to 
a considerable extent abandoned after that event. They 
were, however, retained at Durham, Westminster, and 
Norwich until nearly the end of the last century. But 
since their general abandonment, I believe that on great 
occasions, such as coronations, they have always been worn 
at Westminster Abbey. 

As a striking instance of the retention of an old principle 
long after the actual practice had died out, I may mention 
that the late Major Fortescue, of Alveston Manor, Stratford- 
1 Abbey and Overton : vol. ii., pp. 477-79. 


on-Avon, told me that his grandfather, who was a clergy- 
man, always wore full dress under his surplice whenever 
he celebrated the Holy Eucharist. 

Akin to this, I well remember a remark which was made 
to me some five and twenty years ago by the widow of Sir 
Charles Bell, of Bridgwater treatise fame. As a very old 
lady she came to live in Albany Street, Regents Park, and 
attended St. Mary Magdalene's Church, Munster Square. 
The use of the Eucharistic vestments was quite new to her, 
and she asked me to explain their meaning. This I did, 
and she at once said : — <; I understand the principle exactly; 
you put on court dress to go into the Presence." It is im- 
possible to conceive a briefer or truer definition. 

Everybody knows that the first rubric before the office 
for Holy Communion in the Prayer Book directs that " So 
many as intend to be partakers of the Holy Communion 
shall signify their names to the curate, at least some time 
the day before. 1 ' With church discipline so slack as it has 
been and still is in England, it is scarcely to be expected 
that this rule should ever have been generally observed. 
Yet a contributor to Notes and Queries states that at 
Bitton, in Gloucestershire, two parishioners, who were 
natives of Lincolnshire, used always to give this notice. 
It may be that in the latter county the custom has to some 
slight extent survived. 

The custom of people communicating fasting is one 
which, wherever it may have existed, has evidently been 
handed down from remote times. There are plenty of in- 
stances of this practice to be had, dating from the last 
century. Thus the clergyman of a Berkshire parish states 
that, in 1863, an old woman parishioner told him that her 
mother never communicated except fasting. Another 
clergyman, speaking of those who had lived at Liskeard in 
Cornwall, states that thereabout, in the days of his grand- 
father, it was the general, though not the universal, custom, 


both by rich and poor. Similarly this was known to be the 
case at Leek in Staffordshire. Speaking of an old woman, 
aged 83, who was preparing for her first Communion, the 
clergyman of her parish states that she asked whether she 
ought not to receive it fasting, and he adds that every time 
afterwards she was careful to observe the same reverential 
practice. Going up to the northern counties, the Rector of 
Winestead, Hull, lias told me that people still living can 
remember the custom observed there, and it must be noted 
that in the days referred to there were, as a rule, only late, 
i.e. mid-day, celebrations. Another clergyman, verging 
upon 70, has assured me that his great-grandmother 
was very particular about fasting before reception, and 
that she was also strict in her observance of the Church's 
fast days. He added that if she was on a visit at a friend's- 
house she would never, save under very urgent necessity, 
go beyond the garden before she had been to church. This 
is akin to the custom which still prevails in many parts of 
England, of a woman, after her confinement, abstaining 
from appearing in public until she has been to church to 
return thanks for her safe delivery. The late Dean of 
Brechin, who was an old man twenty years ago, stated 
that his mother invariably received the Holy Communion 
fasting, and would have considered it very it reverent not 
to do so. These few individual instances, drawn from 
different parts of the country, taken almost at bap-hazard 
from a large number of others which have been sent to 
me, show how the ancient reverential custom continued to 
be observed by religious people long before its revival 
under the so-called Tractarian movement. 

The question as to how far daily, weekly, and early 
celebrations of the Holy Communion have been practised 
in England in post-Reformation times is one which must be 
of the highest interest. Upon this matter I am glad to- 
avail myself of a valuable letter from the pen of Mr. F. C. 


S. Warren, which appeared in the Church Times of August 
24th, 1S88. He says :— 

" There is, I think, no evidence whatever of any constant 
daily celebration between the Reformation and the present 
time. Wimborne Minster has been mentioned as such an 
instance, and I was once referred to Hutchin's ' Dorset ' as 
an authority: but Hutchin's (ii. 549) contains nothing of 
the kind ; and the Rev. L. Lester, now Rector of Langton 
Maltravers, late priest-vicar of the Minster, informed me 
some years ago that the fact could not be established. 
One case can be found, in the latter half of the seventeenth 
century, of a daily celebration lasting for a time in London ; 
but it was quite exceptional, and seems indeed to have 
been quasi-private. The celebrant was Edward Stephens, 
first a barrister, then a priest ; he began, before his ordina- 
tion, by procuring in the country parish of his residence a 
monthly and then a weekly celebration, which he says was 
rarely then (soon after the Restoration) 'anywhere else in 
the nation above once or twice, or thrice at most, in the 
year' He then went on in London hy bringing together 
a band of daily communicants, with a priest whom he says 
he had ' brought off from the Dissenters,' and here they 
used a Liturgy of his own composition. After a year their 
chaplain was laid by, as it seems, through ill-health, and 
Stephens then took holy orders himself. What his title 
was, or who ordained him, we are not told, though, if it 
was the Bishop of London, it must, I think, have been 
Compton. He continued the daily celebration for nearly 
three years, and then gave it up. He printed his Liturgy 
in 1696, and it was republished in Hale's ' Fragmenta 
Liturgica,' vol. ii., 1848. See the preface to that work, 
also the Christian Remembrancer, July, 1854, p. 207. 

"Most of the visitation articles (dating 1563-1728) 
published by the Ritual Commissioners inquire whether 


the Holy Communion is celebrated 'duly once a month,' 
and the solitary mention of a weekly celebration is by the 
well-known Bishop Montagu of Norwich, 1638. 

'•In 1633 Dr. Henry Hammond, Rector of Penshurst, 
restores a monthly celebration in his church ('Life before 

"In 1680 Dean Granville of Durham, son-in-law of 
Bishop Cosin, says 'the celebration of the Holy Communion 
every Sunday at the least is not observed in more than 
two cathedrals, and two or three chapels in all England.' 
(Remains published by the Surtees Society, I860). 

"In 1714 Paterson's Pietas Londinensis gives a list, 
quoted in Stephens' 'Common Prayer with Notes,' i. 317, of 
the services in 151 London churches and chapels. The 
Holy Communion was celebrated monthly, at least, in all 
but two of these ; in one twice a month, in eleven weekly, 
and in one more weekly from Easter to Trinity; in ten 
there were early celebrations, of which ten two were thrice 
a month, one twice, three once, two on great festivals, one 
on holy days, the remaining one being at Whitehall Chapel, 
where it is called ' private ' as against the ' public ' late one. 
There are several cases of two celebrations on great 
festivals, and one of daily celebration in their octave, four 
of celebration on Good Friday. 

"In Professor Sedgwick's privately printed history of 
1 lis father's parish of Dent, Yorkshire, he inentions an early 
Easter celebration at the end of the last century, and 
lasting far into this. There was another in 1836 at Meifod, 
Montgomeryshire, where the father of Dr. Rowland 
Williams was vicar. 

"In 1793 Mr. Beste, afterwards a Roman Catholic, 
speaks in a university sermon on Priestly Absolution of 
' those four days in the year on which the Lord's Supper is 
administered in our parochial churches ;' and as late as 
1853 the present Bishop of Carlisle, in the preface to his 


Eucharistic sermons, speaks of ' the commonly rare celebra- 
tion in the great majority of parishes.' 

" The first daily celebration in modern times I believe to 
have been begun by Mr. Prynne of St. Peter's, Plymouth, 
about 1850 ; an early celebration was begun by Mr. Wilson 
of Islington about 1828, and an evening one by Dr. Hook 
about 1844. My authority for these two latter strange 
facts (of which the second was probably alluded to by 
'ExulV Irish D.D.) is a letter in the Guardian of 7th 
July, 1886. See also a letter in Williams' 'Life of 
Suckling,' about 1845, p. 17." 

I learn from the Rev. S. C. Baker that an ancient 
custom of having a celebration at six o'clock on Christmas 
morning is kept up at Usk in Monmouthshire. The 
country people come in from distant parts of the parish to 
this early service, and some communicate who do not at 
other times. It is called "Pwlgwm" in Usk, in other 
places "Plygain." Some say the former word means "cock- 
crowing," and the latter "early day" in some old form of 

The Church of St. George the Martyr, Bloomsbury, was 
built in the reign of Queen Anne. The rector states that 
ever since it was opened the Holy Communion has been 
celebrated every Sunday after the Mattin's service. 

The Rev. J. T. Fowler tells me that it has been an im- 
memorial custom at Ripon Minster to have an early celebra- 
tion on Easter Day, but on no other day in the year. 
Ripon was a very large parish, and in mediaeval times the 
dwellers in outlying chapelries were expected to receive 
their Easter Communion at the Minster. 

There have been certain peculiar usages connected with 
the act of communicating kept up in some places to within 
living memory, and which, perhaps, still survive here and 
there. A few examples may be given. 


An old Orial man tells me that when he was at Oxford 
in 1864, it was the habit for as many undergraduates as 
sufficed to fill the altar rail to take their places there just 
before the short exhortation in the office was recited. 
Again, the Rev. W. F. Clements states, that at St. James', 
Isle of Grain, Kent, at the words, " Ye that do truly," etc., 
the communicants left their seats, went into the chancel 
and knelt down there, the men on the north and the women 
on the south side, and remained there until the priest came 
to communicate them. A similar custom prevailed at 
Wannington in Northamptonshire, at least as late as 1845. 
This usage, with certain slight differences of detail, was 
very common in all parts of the country. A clergyman 
has told me that at Skipsea in Yorkshire, in 1856, they not 
only did this, but the remainder of the congregation, the 
children excepted, stayed in the church till the end of the 
service. This latter fact is interesting as indicating a sur- 
vival of the ancient custom of non-communicating attend- 
ance at the Eucharistic service. At Christ Church, Oxford, 
up to 185G, it was the custom for the communicants to 
remain in their seats while the officiants walked round to 
communicate each. Dr. Pusey frequently administered in 
this way. 

The Rev. R. Noble Jackson, Vicar of Winchcombe, Glou- 
cestershire writes : — " When I first came here, in 1871, the 
altar table retained the old Puritan arrangement, surrounded 
on north, east, and south by a kind of pew back with a 
ledge thereon (facing in each case outwards) for books, and 
with seats ranged along the wall, and matting at the back 
to keep the damp off the clothes. In front were painted 
railings where the common people knelt to receive the 
Sacrament, while the quality occupied the seats around. 
Somewhat akin to this was the arrangement in the chancel 
at Leonard Stanby, Gloucestershire. A former curate of 
the parish tells me that up to 1866 it was the custom to 


administer the Holy Communion inside of a square formed 
on three sides by high-backed ' settles,' on the seats of 
which the communicants knelt. A more usual arrange- 
ment was to have the rails round the three sides of the 
altar which were available for communicants. Up to about 
1850 this was the case at Fenny Compton in Warwickshire, 
for instance ; but hundreds of other examples could easily 
be cited. Indeed, it is only worth mentioning as being an 
arrangement which, if it has not already died out, will do 
so in the course of a generation or two, and all remembrance 
of it be lost." 

In some places it was the custom for the sexes to com- 
municate separately. Let me take as examples three 
parishes fairly remote from one another. This was, and 
perhaps still is, the usage at Churchdown, between Glou- 
cester and Cheltenham, 1 and a lady friend tells me that it 
prevailed in 1850 at Bekesbourne in East Kent. Here the 
women went up first. Going northwards to Nassington 
Church, Northamptonshire, we should find, I believe, to the 
present day, that as soon as the priest has communicated, 
the women approach for reception. The men do not leave 
their seats till every woman has returned. 

At Swanage in Dorsetshire there was a different usage. 
It was the custom there for twelve of the oldest men who 
were communicants to go up together to the altar before 
the rest of the people. The rector has told me that this 
continued until about 1860. 

And as I am now speaking of the act of communicating, 
this will be the place to mention a fact stated in the 
Gentleman's Magazine of February, 1732. It is there 
recorded that one Hallam was executed at Tyburn for the 
murder of his wife. " Hallam denied the flinging of Lis 
wife out of the window, and took the Sacrament upon it 
1 Notes and Qtieries, September 30, 1871. 


under the gallows." A curious question arises here. Did 
the priest celebrate "under tbe gallows," or was the Sacra- 
ment reserved and taken there ? 

I am told that in Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire 
it was the custom for all those present to kneel through the 
whole of the Communion service. This was also the case 
in certain parts of Herefordshire, as at St. Weonard's and 
Michael Church. In the former of these two parishes, up 
to about 1834, Holy Communion was celebrated only four 
times a year, Easter, and its octave, Low Sunday, being two 
of them. This is curious, as it shows a desire on the part 
of the clergy to carry out the directions of the Prayer 
Book, that every parishioner should communicate at Easter. 
They at least gave him an opportunity of doing so. 

A clergyman informs me that he understands that in 
former days the whole congregation at Vale Church, 
Guernsey, used to communicate, as a matter of course, 
when there was a celebration. The question naturally 
arises, whether this was not a quasi-survival of the old 
custom of all persons attending Mass ? 

At the present day, as everybody knows, it is the custom 
of communicants, when receiving the chalice, to take merely 
a tiny sip from it ; but this seems not to have been the case 
in times gone by. As an illustration of this, it may be 
mentioned that the plate in Minsterley Church, Shrews- 
bury, consists of two large flagons, two chalices, each 
capable of holding about three pints, and two patens, all 
inscribed, "The gift of the Right Honourable y e Lady 
Thynne, Anno Dom. 1691." If full, there would be room 
in the vessels for ten pints at least, and the church was 
built only as a private chapel to the hall, and is still a 
chapelry in Westbury parish. It will hold about two 
hundred people, and there were probably never more than 
twenty communicants. More will be said about this matter 
later on. 


In treating of the various old-fashioned usages con- 
nected with the Eucharistic office, I have not found it 
convenient to adhere to the order of the service, but as this 
book does not profess to be a connected treatise, but is 
merely a collection of notes, the lack of strict sequence is a 
matter of little importance. The few items which have 
yet to be added can easily be arranged in a more orderly 

First, as regards the altar arrangements in the Channel 
Islands in years gone by. There seems to have been no 
decent table or altar for Holy Communion in most of the 
churches of Jersey, even as late as the middle of the 
present century. At St. Heliers, for instance, the " Oyster 
board was kept in the porch, and only brought in on Com- 
munion Sundays." In Guernsey matters were somewhat 
better. Each church had a place set apart for the holy 
table, though that place was not always in the chancel. 
Sometimes it was at the east end of a chancel aisle, and in 
one case in the chancel, but westwards of a block of pews. 1 

Then as to the eastward position. Although, no doubt, 
in the earlier part of the present century, the custom in 
nearly every church was for the officiant to stand at the 
north end of the altar, there were exceptions to this. A 
clergyman writes to me to say that the Rev. W. Hepton of 
Bishops Frome adopted the eastward position during the 
Consecration Prayer throughout his priestly life up to the 
time of the Purchas judgment, when he abandoned it. 
When asked, he replied that he did it simply because he 
thought it was the meaning of the rubric. This clergy- 
man was ordained priest in 1826. 

At Foy, in the county of Hereford, the eastward position 
was the rule sixty years ago certainly, how much longer 
I cannot say. 

Again, at Weston Beggard Church in the same county, 

1 Ecclesiologist, ix. 176, x. 73. 



the altar is railed round on three sides so as to leave 
scarcely any room for a priest to squeeze himself between 
the north end and the rail, and it has been customary for 
the incumbent to officiate " before the table " without any 
thought or suspicion of Ritualism. I am speaking now of 
fifty years ago. Further, I learn that at Ings, near Kendal, 
the altar was so arranged in 1773, that only the eastward 
position was possible. 

The office of "server" has survived longer than most 
people imagine. Up to a few yeats ago at Lower Sapey 
Church in Worcestershire, when the clergyman left the 
reading-desk at the end of the morning prayer, and took 
up his position at the altar, it was the custom for the 
clerk also to go within the rails. 1 - A similar custom is 
reported by the Rev. F. G. Lee, who states that up to 1840 
or thereabouts, the habit of the clerk taking his place 
with the priest at the altar existed in many churches in 
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He knelt either with- 
in or without the rails, and in some cases wore a surplice. 2 

In the Guardian of May 31st, 1876, certain items are 
given showing that a like custom prevailed formerly in 
the north of England. 

Thirty or forty years ago (wrote Mr. Bowman in 1876) 
it was usual in the Bristol churches for the men to stand 
during the Communion service till the reading of the 
Epistle, and the children in one of the endowed schools in 
the city (the Red Maids) are still taught to do the same. 3 

A gentleman at Bampton, where there is a very fine 
cruciform church, has told me that it is the custom there 
for the minister during the Communion office to leave the 
altar, after having read the Epistle, and go westwards 
down the church until he reaches the easternmost of the 

1 Notes and Queries, May 1, 1880. 

2 Ibid., June 26, 1880. 

Ibid., August 26, 1876. 


arches which support the tower (standing at the junction 
of the arms of the Cross), and from this spot he reads the 
Gospel and Nicene Creed ; he then goes further on to the 
westernmost of the tower arches, and gives out whatever 
notices there may be. This is probably a quasi-survival of 
the ancient usage of reading the Gospel from the rood 

As the sermon, according to the Prayer Book, is to be 
preached during the Communion office, this seems the 
place to note a peculiar usage in relation to it. At Church- 
down, Gloucestershire, already mentioned, it was customary 
up to 1871, and may be still, for the male labourers to 
stand during the sermon. 1 

We now come to the offertory, and the way of collecting 
the offerings of communicants in days gone by. 

In the village of Stretton, Rutland, writes "Cuthbert 
Bede," it has been the custom from time immemorial, and is 
still the custom, for every communicant to place a silver 
piece of money in the alms basin. However poor the com- 
municants may be, yet a threepenny or fourpenny piece is 
obtained by changing coppers for that express purpose at 
the village shop. 

And similarly at Over, Cambridgeshire, if one should say 
to a poor person, " Give a penny if you can't give more," 
the answer often was, " Oh, we don't give coppers here ; 
they do at Swavesey (the next parish), but no one does 
here." At extraordinary collections not in connection with 
the Holy Communion coppers are given freely. 2 

The parishioners at Crosby Ravensworth in Westmore- 
land do not seem to have been so scrupulous, for I under- 
stand that there the alms of the Holy Communion are 
sometimes called " Oblation Brass." 

According to a clergyman who has written to me, the 

J Notes and Queries, September 30, 1871. 
? Ibid., December 6, 1873. 



Dublin people do not seem to be particularly generous at 
the offertory, or, at any rate, were not years back. He 
says that when he first knew the Dublin churches, the 
people sat down after the Nicene Creed, and whilst a 
voluntary was being played a collection was made, and the 
general rule was for everyone, rich and poor alike, to give 
a penny. The alms were generally gathered in battered 
silver plates, taken up to the altar rails, and piled up six 
or seven high on the holy table. 

Until about the year 1855, the clergy at Ings, Kendal, 
were wise in their generation, and had the collection before 
the sermon, so as to catch the whole of the congregation, 
because as soon as the sermon was over those who were not 
intending to communicate left the church. The gathering 
was made while the clergyman was in the vestry changing 
his surplice for the black gown. 

The Rev. J. Roach, writing from Clifton, says that 
in 1861 to 1865 (presumably whilst he was at college) 
the alms at Holy Communion at St. John's College, 
Cambridge, were not collected, but a large silver alms dish 
was placed on the rails, and each man went up and made 
his offering, and knelt for a short prayer. 

I believe that the custom now to be mentioned was not 
at all uncommon in country places in days gone by. Mr. 
J. T. Micklethwaite, F.S.A., tells me that he remembers at 
Helpringham in Lincolnshire, within the last fifteen years, 
seeing the communicants all enter the chancel at the offer- 
tory, and drop their contributions to the collection into the 
plate held by a churchwarden at the screen door as they 
went in. 

As to the counting the offertory money, a friend has sent 
me an extract from Bishop Lloyd's (additional) statutes for 
Lichfield Cathedral, 1693. 

" Gap. 8 De Oblatis, etc. The consecrating priest, or if 


the bishop be the consecrator, he who ministers the chalice, 
shall, before his departure from the Lord's Table, count 
the money given at the offertory and commit it to the care 
and keeping of the sacristan or sub-sacristan," etc. etc. 

At the Ecclesiastical Art Exhibition held during the 
Rhyl Church Congress in 1891, a Sanctus Bell was ex- 
hibited by the Rev. B. M. Jones, Rector of Llanfair-Dyffrin, 
Clwyd, Ruthin. It is dated 1723. There is a tradition 
that, up to the beginning of the present century, this bell 
was removed from the parish chest and placed on the altar 
step by the churchwardens and taken back after the ser- 
vice. It was not rung. 

Let us pass a step onwards in the service. In all well- 
ordered churches it is now the custom for the choir to 
sing, " O Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the 
world," etc., before the consecration prayer, and " Blessed is 
He that cometh in the name of the Lord," etc., after it. 
Although this was ordered by the rubric in the first Prayer 
Book of Edward VI., the use now of these words is by most 
regarded as quite a modern introduction of a practice which 
had entirely died out. This is not the case. The Rev. W. 
F. Clements, writing from Birmingham in 1873, stated that, 
when staying in Wiltshire, an old man, over eighty years of 
age, told him that, when he was a boy, the congregation at 
the church which he frequented always used to repeat these 
words. There must be many similar instances, but this is 
the only one which I am able to cite. 

And then as to the Mixed Chalice. The late Canon 
Humble stated that, in some of the old congregations in 
Scotland, the celebrant, in making the mixture, which was 
done publicly in all churches of the older type, used to say, 
and still in some places continues to say : — " And one of the 
soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and thence came 
there out blood and water." 


Taking into account the attitude which the Wesleyan 
Methodists assume in relation to the church, a former 
curate of Caunton, Nottinghamshire, has stated that the 
Methodists in that village, a very small and pious body> 
retain the old custom of not having their meetings at such 
times as clash with the church services, " and some of them 
are our most regular communicants. There is one old man 
of eighty-four who regularly communicates on Sunday at 
8.30, goes to the meeting-house, which is close by, at 9.30, 
and after that creeps off home. He used to come to 
mattins and preaching at 11, but now he cannot manage it." 

More striking still is a statement which appears in the 
Gentleman's Magazine of October, 1736, in an account 
giveu of one, Thomas Wright, citizen of London, who died, 
aged sixty-one : — " Though an Independent, and a member 
of Mr. Howe's congregation, he was a strict monthly com- 
municant of the Church of England." 

Perhaps some of my readers will be surprised to learn 
that the " Houselling Cloth," as an " ornament " of the 
church, is still '' retained and in use '' in not a few places. 
Let us take Wimborne Minster, Dorsetshire, first. It is the 
custom there for the communicants to kneel at long, low 
tables covered with white linen which stand along the top 
step of the chancel. Tradition says that, before the tables 
were put there, a long strip of linen was held before the 
communicants by two deacons, but the tables have been 
there for the last two hundred years ; they are never 
moved, and are always covered with white linen. 

I may notice in passing that in the churchwarden's 
accounts of St. Margaret's, Westminster, in 1599, the fol- 
lowing appears : — 

" Item. Paid for a long diaper cloth to make two towels 
for the communicants, 12s. 8d." 


Some years ago the Vicar of Holyrood, Southampton, 
wrote to say that the Houselling Cloth was still used there 
at the celebration of the Holy Communion. He found it in 
use when he went there, and retained it as a relic of old 
times. There is no doubt, he thinks, that the custom is a 
very old one, as his two predecessors covered pretty nearly 
a century between them. His immediate predecessor (Dr. 
Wilson) was not one at all disposed to introduce new 
fashions, and his vicariate began in 1824. 

In the Ecclesiologist of February, 1859, is a letter from a. 
clergyman, in which he says : — " I was called upon to-day in 
an official capacity to administer Communion to a consider- 
able number of old alms-folk in a church in the very 
heart of the city of London. . . . One poor old woman 
from Bristol who communicated, when she knelt at the 
altar step, deliberately spread her white, or rather yellow- 
white, pocket handkerchief along the rail before communi- 

This fact lends some colour to the suggestion made by 
Mr. Cousins in his " Exeter Fifty Years Since," the second 
edition of svhich appeared in 1878, that the clean white 
pocket handkerchief which old-fashioned people used fc> 
carry round their prayer books was a survival of the old 
Housel Cloth. 

At the Parish Church of St. Germans, Cornwall, the rails 
are covered with white hangings on Communion Sundays, 
and this has been done time out of mind. The popular 
idea there is that it is to prevent the dresses of the squire's 
ladies from being soiled ! * 

A few other places where the Housel Cloth is, or till 
lately has been in use, may be mentioned. The list is in 
no sense intended to be even approximately exhaustive, 
but merely embraces examples which I have gathered from 

1 Notes and Queries (1858), p. 444. 


well accredited published sources, or which have been sup- 
plied to me by private correspondents. 

At the Parish Church at Leamington clean white napkins 
are placed along the altar rails every Sunday in the year. 
Whenever there is to be a celebration the altar rails at 
Sway ford Church, Lincolnshire, are covered with a long 
linen cloth, as also at St. Mary's Thame, Oxfordshire, up to 
1841. This is still observed at St. Mary's (the University 
Church), Oxford. 1 A like custom was observed up to 1861 
or 1862 at Westhide, a chapelry of Stoke Edith, Hereford. 
At St. Peter's, Hereford, this was the case up to 1874, and 
may still be continued. At Holmer, and at Mordiford, in 
the same country, persons still living can remember the 
custom. It had been followed from time immemorial in 
the Parish Church at Henslow, Huish, Langport, until the 
building was '' restored " in 1872, when for some cause or 
another the usage was given up ; but at St. Bride's Major, 
a parish in Glamorgan, the practice of placing white linen 
hangings on the altar rails on Communion Sundays is still 

It is generally taken for granted that the Housel Cloth, 
where used, was always of white linen, but this, it would 
seem, was not the case. A Stockton clergyman told me 
some ten years ago, that five years previously he was at 
Bolam in Northumberland and he saw the vicar's housemaid 
preparing the altar for the monthly celebration. Part of 
her work consisted in tying on to the stone altar rails a 
cloth of the same colour as the altar cloth (blue), so as to 
hang down on both sides. The late vicar had only recently 
died. He was an " Evangelical," and had held the benefice 
since 1817. 

From a communication by the Rev. H. T. Ellacombe to 

1 Notes and Queries, October 17, December 26, 1874. 


Notes and Queries?- we learn that " from time immemorial 
the Gloria in Excelsis has been sung in Exeter Cathedral 
every Sunday, and on Christmas Day and Ascension Day. 
The ten chorister boys are arranged outside the outermost 
altar rail, for there are two, one near the table, the other 
at some distance, and within these the communicants are 
assembled, and the sacred elements are administered to 
each by the officiating priests going to them. After the 
service, the boys close the procession of clergymen, each 
party filing off to their own respective vestries. But when 
the bishop is present, the boys precede and arrange them- 
selves in a line on their knees in one of the side aisles 
where the bishop passes on his way out of the cathedral, 
and each receives his blessing." 

One more curious usage in connection with the Holy 
Communion must be mentioned, viz. that of giving metal 
tokens to the communicants. I learned from the late 
Canon Humble that in Scotland the old way of securing 
the Church from unfit communicants was by means of a 
token which used to be given by the pastor during the 
week to the intending communicant. These were collected 
by the clerk as the communicants approached the altar. 
This still continues in a few congregations. The custom was 
derived from Presbyterian sources, for it still is in use 
among them, though people are beginning to think it 
vulgar, and it is gradually dying out. Few people, how- 
ever, are aware that instances of a similar custom in the 
Church of England are on record. Thus, Communion 
tokens were given at St. Saviour's, Southwark, in 1G27, 
and at Henley on Thames in 1G39. 2 

1 Notes and Queries (1856) p. 143. 

2 Ibid., ses. 2, ti ; 432. 



So far as my researches have gone, I have come across^ 
fewer out-of-the-way customs connected with the sacrament 
of Holy Baptism than might have been expected ; but 
such as I have found shall be recorded. 

To begin with Ireland. In the wild parish of Ballintoy, 
County Antrim, I understand that there used to be almost 
a struggle, on the occasion of a baptism, to obtain the 
first water, the child who was first baptised being con- 
sidered likely to be most lucky afterwards. It was also 
usual to sew up in the infant's clothes a large oat-cake. 
This, on the return home, formed, with whisky, the 
christening feast. 

In Burt's " Letters from a Gentleman in the North of 
Scotland to his Friend in London," published in 1754, the fol- 
lowing barbarous custom is related, which, though not exactly 
belonging to Church Folklore, may be worth mentioning. 
" The moment a child is born it is plunged into cold water, 
though it should be necessary first to break the ice. At 
the christening, the father holds it up before the pulpit, 
and receives a long extemporary admonition concerning 
its education." 1 This is carrying out the principle of the 
survival of the fittest to rather an extreme length. Scotch- 
men have always had the character of being physically 
tough, and no wonder, if they live through this discipline. 

The idea formerly prevailed amongst Lincolnshire folk 

1 Gentleman's Magazine (1754), p. 370. 


that if a child be born with its hands open it was an 
indication of liberality and benevolence, but if its hands 
be closed, the child when it grows up will assuredly prove 
a churl. When an infant is first taken to a neighbour's 
house it is presented with egyjs, the emblem of abundance, 
and with salt, the symbol of friendship. As to the christen- 
ing, it is the belief of some very simple people, that unless 
the child cries during the office it will not live. This silly 
credulousness occasions some poor infants to suffer con- 
siderable torture, for their barbarous nurses do not hesitate 
to pinch their tender flesh, or to prick them with pins to 
excite the wished-for evidence of their longevity. 1 

A lady at Rugeley, writing in 1874, says that, " At Lyme 
Regis in Dorsetshire the church is built on a hill, conse- 
quently there are steps all up the aisle. The baptising is 
at the lower end of the church. Immediately after naming 
the children the clergyman takes the child last christened, 
and the godmothers and nurses follow with the other 
children up the steps, where he receives them into the 

Trine affusion is more common at the present day than it 
was in the earlier part of the century. It is interesting to 
know that there were at least some clergymen a hundred 
years ago who knew how to baptise properly. The Rev. E. 
Symonds states that his father, when baptising a child, and 
pouring water upon it only once, was told by an old 
Devonshire clergyman ordained in the last century, who 
was present, that when he was ordained it was always the 
custom to pour the water over the child's face three times. 

A veiy odd custom has been related to me by the 
authoress of " The Heir of Redcliffe.'' " I have seen," she 
says, " a cottager's tenth child christened with a sprig of 
myrtle in its cap to mark it as a tithe child ; and I have 
heard of the Rector of Compton recognising such a tithe 
3 Gentleman's Magazine (1832), part ii., p. 493. 


child, and sending him to school. I think the custom is 

Strange names are sometimes given to infants, but it 
would, I think, be difficult to find one more strange than 
that about to be mentioned. 

It appears that in the parish of Winchcombe, Gloucester- 
shire, there is a farm called " Almsbury." In ] 747 a child 
was left by some vagrants in one of the fields of the farm. 
Some pigs attacked the babe, but the little one was de- 
fended by a clog, which drove the pigs away, and the child 
was, for the time being, saved. In the Parish Register of 
Winchcombe the following entries are found : — 

"Sept. 8, 1747. Susanna Smith Buried, and Cunozoa 
Almsbury Baptized. This child was exposed and preserved 
by dogs which defended it from the swine. 

"Oct. 10. Cunozoa Almsbury Bur<l." 

Those who wish to see what very odd names have some- 
times been given to children must turn to the end of this 
volume. In Appendix II. they will find a collection such 
as, I believe, has never before been published. 

In many parts of Surrey, when several children are 
brought to be baptised at the same time, it is the custom of 
the clerk to take care that the males be presented first, for 
it is thought that if the girls were to take precedence the 
boys would grow up beardless. 1 This idea formerly pre- 
vailed in the north of England, and the custom of giving 
the boy babies precedence continued at Newcastle-on-Tyne 
down to 1S63 at the least. 2 At Harrietsham in Kent, 
however, though the same custom is followed, the reason 
given for it is slightly different. The people there say that 

1 Notes and Queries, Oct. 21, 1854. 

2 Ibid., May 31, 1877. 


if the girls were to be baptised before the boys they would 
have hair on their faces when they grew up. 

Another odd custom prevailed in the North. When a 
child was taken to church to be christened, a little boy was 
engaged to meet the infant on its leaving the house, because 
it was deemed an unlucky omen to encounter a female first. 
For this service the boy received a small present of a cake 
and cheese wrapped in paper. 1 

Mr. Henderson gives us a description of a somewhat 
similar usage, stating that at Durham it is the custom (1879) 
at a baptism for the nurse to take a piece of cake and cheese 
to church, which is given to the first person of the opposite 
sex to the child met on leaving the church. A like custom 
exists in Somersetshire, and in Cornwall, and did lately 
about Dartmoor. 2 

As bearing this out by personal experience, we have Mr. 
J. W. Thomas, Dewsbury, stating, in 1853, that when riding 
some years since in the eastern part of Cornwall he met a 
christening party, also on horseback, headed by a nurse 
with a baby in her arms. Making a halt as he approached 
her, she stopped him, and producing a cake, insisted upon 
his taking it. Several years afterwards, in the Isle of Man, 
an old person told him that it had been customary, within 
the speaker's recollection, for a woman when carrying a 
child to be christened to take with her a piece of bread 
and cheese to give to the first person she met, for the 
purpose of saving the child from witchcraft, or the fairies. 3 

In Northumberland, , Mr. Henderson tells us, it is the 
custom to make the christened child sleep the first night in 
the cap he wore at baptism. At the beginning of the 
present century the earliest possible baptism was regarded 
as essential to the health of the infant. 

1 Gentleman's Magazine (1822), part ii., p. 13. 

2 " Folklore of the Northern Counties," p. 12. 
8 Notes and Queries, December 24, 1853. 


Formerly a cloth was kept in families for use at 
christenings, and called in Dorsetshire a " Christening 
Palm." One about five feet long and a little less broad of 
crimson satin eda^ed with silver lace is mentioned in Notes 
and Queries. The same thing is called in Devonshire a 
" Christening Pane." 1 

A gentleman, writing from Beaminster, gives the follow- 
ing list of christening ornaments provided about the end of 
the seventeenth century, and now in his possession. 

1. A lined white figured satin cap. 

i. A lined white satin cap embroidered with sprays of 
gold coloured silk. 

3. A white satin palm embroidered to match. Size 44 

inches by 34 inches. 

4. A pair of dress cuffs, white satin, similarly em- 

broidered, trimmed with lace, evidently intended tu 
be worn by the bearer of the infant. 

5. A pair of linen gloves or mittens for the baby, 

trimmed with narrow lace, the back of the fingers 
lined with coloured figured silk. 

6. A palm, 54 inches by 48 inches, of rich stiff yellow 

silk lined with white satin. 

The writer of the above adds that the palm or pall was 
not in use only for the baptism of an infant ; but certainly 
as late as forty years ago, the wrapper (often of fine muslin 
and lace) in which the child was brought down to see 
company was so called. 2 

Mr. Henderson says that "much importance attaches to a 
baby's first visit to another house, on which occasion it 
should receive three things : an egg, salt, and white bread 
or cake. The egg, a sacred emblem from the remotest 

1 Notes and Queries, April 10, 1875. 
"Ibid., August 14, 1875. 


antiquity, and the cake and salt things used alike in Pagan 
and Jewish sacrifices (Lev. ii. 13). Somewhat grotesquely 
they add in the East Riding of Yorkshire a fourth thing — 
a few matches to light the child on its way to Leaven. 
These votive offerings must be pinned in the baby's clothes, 
and so brought home. I have heard of an old woman in 
Durham speak of this as the child receiving alms. " He 
could not claim them before he was baptised," she said, 
" but now he is a Christian, and has a right to ask alms of 
his fellow Christians." Near Leeds this ceremony is called 
" puddening." 1 

At Wakefield this custom is called " blessing," and a piece 
of silver is always added to the other gifts. The usage 
prevails in Lancashire, Durham, Yorkshire, and Lincoln- 

On November 5th, 1848, there was a meeting of the 
Archaeological Institute, at which Mr. F. A. Carrington, 
Recorder of Woodstock, read notices of certain customs 
prevalent in Monmouthshire and South Wales. He said 
that when a mother died shortly after child-birth the 
infant had been baptised on her coffin at the funeral. This 
is said to have been done at Monmouth in 1814. The 
custom was unknown there when Mr. Carrington read his 
paper, but was occasionally used in certain parts of the 
Principality, the baptismal water being sometimes placed 
on the coffin instead of in the font, and the baptism per- 
formed in the church porch, or even in the house of the 
parents before the removal of the corpse. 2 

Here is a personal experience by one formerly well 
known in London — the late Dr. A. B. Evans, Rector of St. 
Mary-le-Strand. He stated that, when officiating at a 
church iu Herefordshire, he was sent for to baptise the 
child of a woman who had died shortly after its birth. On 

1 "Folklore of the Northern Counties," p, 20 

2 Archaeological Journal, vol. xvi, p. 88. 


preparing to perform the office, he was told that the custom 
was to baptise the child, under such circumstances, over the 
dead body of the mother. Not wishing to contravene their 
custom, he was conducted to the room where the coffined 
body lay, and baptised the child, holding it over the re- 
mains of the mother. 

To speak now about Baptism by Immersion, concerning 
which I have a few memoranda. 

One of the queerest arguments in favour of it that I 
know is in a letter from Sir John Floyer to Mr. King of 
Bungay, cited in the Gentleman's Magazine of April, 1734, 
recommending cold bathing. Hence he advocates the 
dipping of children in baptism, which, he says, has been 
practised at Lichfield and elsewhere with good effect. 

Why the water in the font should of necessity be cold 
does not appear. No one with any sense would dip a 
baby in cold water, one would think, unless it were a 
Scotch baby, and just newly born ! 1 

When the Church of St. John's, Torquay, was built, 
under the supervision of Mr. G. E. Street, R.A., and a sunk 
pit made at the west end of the nave for adult baptisms by 
immersion, many people thought that such an arrangement 
had never been seen before. They were wrong. The Rev. 
F. A. Carr, when Vicar of Cranbrook, Kent, wrote as 
follows : — " We have a curious font for the baptism of 
adults by immersion, which I believe to be unique. It is a 
small well, seven feet deep, built against the south wall by 
a celebrated Vicar of Cranbrook, in the early part of the 
last century, viz. by John Johnson, the author of the 
" Unbloody Sacrifice," the " Vade Mecum," etc. 

There was, and may be still, in the Church of St. 
Laurence, Reading, a baptistry under some of the pews. 
Some years ago, a family of Quakers, desiring to be ad- 

i See p. 74. 


mitted into the Church by baptism by immersion, the pews 
were removed, the baptistry filled with water, and the con- 
verts immersed. 1 

In the Church of Trevethin, Monmouthshire, there is a 
baptistry for purposes of immersion ; as also in the com- 
paratively new Church of St. Mary, Aberdare. 

Some ten or more years ago, the late Canon Cadman of 
Holy Trinity, Marylebone, well known in his day as a very 
pious Low Churchman, very kindly sent me, in conse- 
quence of my request, the following description of an adult 
baptism which he celebrated in that church, but, unfor- 
tunately, he did not mention in what year it took place : — 

" The parents of a young woman had delayed her bap- 
tism, and when I became acquainted with them, I found 
that they entertained, in common with their daughter, 
strong opinions in favour of immersion. I did all I could 
to show them that the ■mode was not so important as they 
thought, but at length pointed out to them that the Church 
did not object, in certain cases, to baptism by immersion. 
After obtaining the bishop's consent, I procured a large 
bath or tank (or, rather, had one constructed for the pur- 
pose) with steps outside and inside. Placing it by the 
font, I had it filled with water, and at a certain portion of 
the service, the young person, with her parents and wit- 
nesses, came forward. 

" When the time for immersion came, I commended her 
to the silent prayers of the congregation, while she retired 
to the vestry to undress, and to put on a suitable flannel 
robe. Coming forth with her mother, I took her right 
hand, led her up the outside steps of the bath, directed her 
to descend into the water, and standing by the outside of 
the bath, and placing one arm under her head, I baptised 
her by immersion, in the sacred name of the Trinity. She 
1 Notes and Queries, October 27, 1886. 


then retired again to the vestry. There was again prayer- 
ful silence, and when she came again into the congregation 
in her usual dress, the service was concluded. 

" A very solemn feeling prevailed. Prejudices were ex- 
cited in some quarters, but removed by explanations, and I 
think that much good resulted — certainly adherence to our 
Church instead of alienations from it. In the course of 
twenty years we have had three such cases." 

All this was very nice, of course, but I cannot see why 
Mr. Cadman should have made such a fuss about it. Con- 
sidering the rubric in the office for the baptism of infants, 
which makes " affusion " the permissible form of baptism 
in case the child is too weakly to be dipped, the idea of 
asking the bishop to sanction the immersion of a grown-up 
person, who herself desired it, is beyond my comprehension. 
But I have been brought up with old-fashioned ideas, and 
prefer the traditions of the Church, and the ordering of 
the rubrics, to the ipse dixit of individual bishops, who, of 
course, have no right to override either of these very plain 
guides in order to have their own private tastes and fancies 
carried out.. 

" Within the last three months," writes J. W. Batchelor 
from Odiham, Hants, " I have known two clergymen bap- 
tising in rivers in Wales, the question being left to the 
choice of the candidate." 1 

In the time of the Commonwealth public baptism fell 
into almost total disuse, and private baptism became the 
rule. Good men who were in authority mourned over this, 
but it was very long ere they could get the rule of the 
church obeyed. Bishop Bull, who presided over the diocese 
of St. David's from 1705 to 1710.. in a charge to his clergy, 
has the following : — " The Church strictly requires that it 

1 Notes aiid Queries, Nov. 17, 1866. 


(baptism) be performed publicly in the House of God, not 
in private houses, except in case of real necessity, as when 
a child is weak, and cannot, without endangering itself, be 
brought to church. But notwithstanding this strict order 
of our Church, in most places in this country, baptism is 
altogether administered in private houses, and scarce any, 
if any, baptised in church. If this may be allowed, away 
with the fonts in your churches. What do they signify ? 
To what purpose are they there ? If all the authority 
I am invested with can do it, I will see this lamentable 
abuse of the sacrament of baptism reformed." 

The probability is that, apart from the natural tendency 
of people to carelessness and irreverence, a Puritanical dis- 
like to the sign of the cross and to sponsors was to a great 
extent the cause of the disuse of public baptism, for accord- 
ing to the office in the Prayer Book, a child could be bap- 
tised privately without either the one or the other. It is 
most likely that the scandal of charging fees for baptism 
grew out of the habit of having children privately baptised, 
in which case a gift of money to the clergyman for the 
trouble of attending at a private house at a certain hour 
might not seem unreasonable. Whether this demand 
still exists in any parish, I know not ; but, as we are 
aware, it was discontinued only a few years ago at St. 
George's, Hanover Square, in consequence of the agitation 
of some earnest churchmen. 

It may be well to note that the Act 35 and 36 Vict., c. 36, 
renders it unlawful to demand . any fee or reward for the 
celebration of the sacrament of baptism, or for the registry 
thereof. Some clergymen, especially those in remote 
parishes, may not be aware of this. 

It is not generally known that, in 1783, it was enacted 
that there should be a stamp duty of threepence on every 
baptism registered. This is, I believe, recorded in the 
Register of St. John's, Clerkenwell. The Act imposing it 


was repealed in 1794 See more about this in the section 
on Marriage Customs. 

In the last century it was customary with people of 
fashion to have negroes as men servants and pages. It is 
evident that even in the eighteenth century, when the 
Church of England is supposed to have been at her lowest 
ebb, some pains were taken by masters and mistresses in 
seeing after the spiritual welfare of their dependents. An 
extract from the Baptismal Register of St. John's, West- 
minster, will serve to illustrate this : — 

" 1730. April 2. — John Chaffinch, a blackamoor, 16 years of 
age ; baptised by Mr. Moore. No money. 
1731. Oct. 11. — Sanders Dover, a blackamoor boy, aged 13. 
1733. Jan. 10. — John Brown, a blackamoor. 
1760. Sept. 5. — John James, an adult black. 

1772. Feb. 5. — Andrew Clarke, a mulatto of riper years. 

1773. Sept. 1. — John Johnson, an adult blackamoore; 

Sarah Johnson, an adult blackamoor. 
1786. Feb. 10. — JamesMurrayClaris,an adult blackamoor." 

A somewhat curious idea prevails in the East Riding of 
Yorkshire, viz. that if a woman who is about to become a 
mother were to act as godmother at a baptism, the child 
for which she stood would soon die. 

Hitherto in this volume the order in which the several 
offices come in the Prayer Book has determined the order 
of the subjects dealt with. It seems, however, convenient 
here to depart from our rule, and to treat of one or two 
customs in regard to the rite of 


after having spoken of those which are connected with 
baptism. But before this is done it may be well to in- 


quire what were the sentiments of the better class of the 
clergy about this rite two hundred years ago, when it was 
by no means unusual for the churching service to be said 
in private houses. 

Dean Comber in his " Companion to the Temple," pub- 
lished in 1674, says, 1 " With us in England custom only 
seems to determine the time to be a full month, and our 
rubric prudently says no more, but that it shall be done at 
the usual time. And that we may give no countenance to 
the Jewish opinion of their uncleanness, we admit them to 
the Church before any prayers be said for them. And in 
most places they come up to the steps of the altar, that be- 
ing the proper place to offer the sacrifice of praise, and to 
remind them of their duty in receiving the Sacrament 
either then, or at the first opportunity. The woman only 
goes to the altar, but everyone present has a fresh occasion 
to exercise his most serious meditations. ... To do tins 
(i.e. to church women) in a private house is as contrary to 
the end as it is to the name of this office. If the women 
will not do their duty the priest must do his, i.e. refuse to 
go to their private houses, which hath been decreed in a 
late council, viz. that the priest do not go to the woman's 
house to make the accustomed prayer there ; no, not 
though she be so weak as not to be able to come to church 
And the reason hereof is evident, because she may stay till 
she is stronger. She is not obliged to come at a certain 
time, but only so soon as she is able. 

" The last rubric intimates two things. First, she must 
offer the usual oblations to the priest, viz. the chrysom or 
alb thrown over the child at christening, and some small 
offering to him that ministers, which are not requitals, but 
only acknowledgments of her gratitude to the Church. 
Besides which those women who are able ought to give 
some considerable sum of money to the poor upon every 
1 Introduction, part iv. 


such deliverance as a testimony of their real sense of God's 
mercy shown to them. Secondly, that she either do now, 
or as soon as can be, receive the Holy Sacrament, which 
these woinen always did in the Greek and iEthiopic 
•Churches, and, it seems, in this very Church above a thou- 
sand years ago. And still we carry them up to the altar 
to mind them of their duty ; and doubtless the omission of 
it occasions the too soon forgetting of His mercy, and the 
sudden falling off from piety which we see in too many." x 

The words in the rubric requiring the woman to come 
" decently apparelled " require explanation. In the seven- 
teenth century it was not thought becoming that on such 
,an occasion a woman should wear her ordinary head-dress, 
and instances might be quoted of clergymen refusing to 
" church " women who came without the customary " vaile." 
It is evident that in some parishes this was provided by the 
church, for in an inventory of church goods belonging to 
St. Benet's, Gracechurch Street, in 1560, there is " A 
Churching Cloth, fringed, White Damask." 

We must inquire what is meant by the '' convenient place," 
which, according to the rubric, the woman is to occupy. 
The principle, of course, is that the place shall in some 
way symbolise the fact that the woman is now in a position 
to resume those Church privileges from which for a time 
she has been debarred. In pre- Reformation times she was 
to be at the church door — a most improper place, one 
would think, for a woman who was out for the first time 
after her confinement. In the first book of Edward VI. her 
position was to be " nigh unto the quire door." In the 
second book of Edward VI. she was to be " nigh unto the 
place where the Table standeth." But during the past three 
hundred years the custom has varied. Mr. J. H. Blunt 
quotes Bishop Wren's orders for the Diocese of Norwich, in 
1636. " That women to be churched come and kneel at a 
1 Part iv., sec. 6. 


side near the Communion Table, without the rail, being 
veiled according to the custom, and not covered with a hat ; 
or otherwise not to be churched, but presented at the next 
generals by the minister, or churchwardens, or any of 
them." In Bishop Brian Duppa's Visitation Articles in the 
Chichester Diocese, in 1638, there is an inquiry similar in 
substance to the above. " Doth he (the priest) go into the 
chancel, the woman also repairing thither, kneeling as near 
the Communion Table as may be ; and if there be a Com- 
munion, doth she communicate in acknowledgment of the 
great blessing received by her safe delivery ? Doth the 
woman who is to be churched use the accustomed habit 
in such cases with a white veil or kerchief upon her 
head ? " x 

In some churches, more especially I believe in Lincoln- 
shire, there was a pew or open seat, which was known as 
the " churching seat." 

The feeling that women ought not to leave their own 
house or garden before they have been to church is very 
widely spread. The Rev. W. T. Frere says, that this was 
strictly observed when he was at Rugeley. In Hereford- 
shire it was not considered " correct " for the husband to 
appear in church on the day of his wife's churching, at all 
events in the same pew with her. An antiquary of the 
county considered this a relic of Roman Paganism, con- 
nected with the worship of the Bona Dea. 2 

In Devonshire, I am told, some people call being churched 
being " uprose." I shall never forget (says my informant) 
the bewilderment of a strange clergyman, who had taken a 
baptism in a parish church in that county, when the clerk 
followed him into the vestry with the mysterious announce- 
ment, " Her wants to be uprose." 

"At Legbourne," writes the Rev. J. H. Overton, "and I 

1 " Annotated Prayer Book," p. 305. 

2 Notes and Queries, March 27, 1852. 


think at other Lincolnshire villages, women look upon 
their churching with an almost superstitious regard. I had 
a curious instance when I first came here, in 1860. I at 
once tried to knock on the head the custom of having 
baptisms after the service, and on one occasion when I 
told a woman who came to be churched and to have her 
child baptised, that the baptism would take place after the 
second lesson, she replied, ' That is impossible, for I can- 
not walk down the church until I have been churched.' 
The churching service used to be read just before the 
general thanksgiving, so I overcame the scruple by having 
the churching service before the general service began." 

The idea of registering churchings would scarcely ever 
occur to a clergyman now, but as a matter of fact such 
entries do exist. In the Parish Church Register at Preston, 
Lancashire, in the early part of the seventeenth century, 
there is a record of the churching of women. 1 Similar 
entries are found in the last page of a volume of Sidmouth 
Parish Registers, and also at Staplehurst. 2 

Much more stress was laid by the bishops in the last 
century upon the importance of 


than is generally supposed. In charge after charge we 
find this duty pressed upon the clergy. There is, however, 
reason to believe that in many parishes it was only prac- 
tised during Lent. The Rev. G. W. Cole, when at Ely, in 
1873, stated that an old woman named Mary Loweiy, whom 
he buried the previous year, aged 91, remembered being 
catechised in church when a child. 

A lady at Torquay has told me that about 1830, at 

1 Notes and Queries, October 21, 1865. 

2 Ibid., November 18, 1865. 


Morchard Bishop, the children from different districts in 
the parish assembled in church occasionally during the 
summer months to say their catechism. They were sum- 
moned by a notice given out by the clerk from the singing 
gallery. The Rev. Edgar Hoskins remembers that on 
every Sunday afternoon in Lent the collegers at Eton were 
catechised during even-song in the college chapel. This 
was from 1844 to 1849. 



It can be readily believed that a great variety of local 
customs have clustered round such an interesting event as 
marriage. Some of these I propose to describe in the pre- 
sent chapter. 

Most persons know that in pre-Reformation days there 
■were certain restrictions as to the seasons when, according 
to church order, marriages ought not to be solemnised, but 
comparatively few are aware that the same rule was main- 
tained after English churchmen had shaken themselves 
free from the imposed trammels of the Papacy. I need 
not go back to the canons issued in the early ages of 
Christianity on this subject. It will suffice to say that, 
according to the Sarum Missal, which as an old Church of 
England authority should be regarded as our legitimate 
guide in such a matter, the following are mentioned as the 
prohibited seasons. From Advent Sunday until the octave 
of the Epiphany ; from Septuagesima until the octave of 
Easter ; and from Rogation Sunday until six days after 
Pentecost. The late Mr. J. H. Blunt, in his " Annotated 
Prayer Book," tells us that a Latin notice of this kind 
appears in the register book of Dymchurch in Kent, and a 
rhyming English one to the same effect in the church of St. 
Mary's, Beverley, dated November 25th, 1641. In the 
church at Wimbish in Essex a note appears as regards the 
season during which marriage is prohibited by the Church, 
and a similar entry is in the register book of Hornby in 

Yorkshire. In his charge of 1750, Archbishop Sharp 



mentions these prohibited times ; and they are set down as 
matters of general information in some of the almanacs of 
the last century. Bishops and archdeacons in the seven- 
teenth century were in the habit of inquiring at their 
visitations whether any have married in the times wherein 
marriage is by law restrained without lawful licence. 
Reference may be made to Bishop Andrewes' Articles, 
Winchester, 1619 and 1625 ; to Bishop Cosin's in the East 
Riding, 1627; and to Bishop Montague's at Norwich, 1638. 1 
On the fly-leaf of the register at Everton, Notts, the 
following doggerel appears : — 

" Advent marriage doth deny, 
But Hilary gives thee liberty ; 
Septuagesima says thee nay ; 
Eight days from Easter says you may ; 
Rogation bids thee to contain, 
But Trinity sets thee free again." 

In East Anglia there exists an old saying : — 

" Marry in Lent, 
And you'll live to repent.'' 

It was also regarded as unlucky for a woman to marry a 
in whose surna 
Hence we have :- 

man whose surname began with the same letter as her own. 

" To; change the name and not the letter, 
Is a change for the worse, and not for the better.'' 

The publication of banns before marriage is a very 
-ancient custom, and dates back to the Lateran Council in 
1139. Three publications are required by the canons of 
Westminster in 1200, and on three Sundays or festivals, 

\Notes and Queries (1857), p. 97. 


distinct from each other, by Reynold's Constitutions in 
1322. The term " banns " is derived from a word signifying 
to proclaim, whence comes also the word " banner," which 
emblem signifies the publication of the purpose of the pro- 
cession in which it is exhibited. It is perhaps worth while',, 
in passing, to draw attention to the strictness of English 
Church Law in respect to this matter. It is laid down in 
canon 62, that no minister, upon pain of suspension, per 
triennium ipso facto, shall celebrate matrimony between 
any persons without a faculty or licence granted by some 
of the persons in these our constitutions expressed, except 
the banns of matrimony have been first published thre& 
several Sundays or holy days, in the time of divine service, 
in the parish churches or chapels where the said parties 
dwell, according to the Book of Common Prayer. 

Of course the publication of banns in church was in- 
tended to prevent clandestine marriages. But Thomas- 
Comber, D.D., in his " Companion to the Temple," pub- 
lished in 1688, says this : — " The time of publication engages 
the whole congregation to pray for a blessing upon the 
parties to be joined, it being the custom in these parts of 
England, upon this publication, for all the people to say,. 
' God speed them well.' " The words, " these parts of Eng- 
land," evidently signify Yorkshire, as Comber was appointed 
precentor of York in 1683, and did not become Dean of 
Durham till 1691. 

The congratulatory exclamation referred to by Dean 
Comber was formerly by no means uncommon ; but it was 
used in various ways. Thus, at Cromhall in Gloucester- 
shire the words were said only after the publication of the 
banns for the last time. The custom prevailed until quite 
recently in some parts of Lincolnshire, 1 and at Laceby in. 
that county the bells ring out at the end of the service 
after the third " asking." The " God speed 'em well " was. 
1 Notes and Queries, December 27, 18T9. 


in use at Thornton Steward in the North Riding of York- 
shire up to 1871, and at Patrick Brompton in the same 
Riding up to 1866. * Judging from a letter from Horace 
Walpole to Mr. Conway, May 22nd, 1753, the publication of 
banns was considered by fashionable people as degrading. 
It was, I fancy, with reference to a Fleet marriage that 
Walpole wrote as follows : — " It is well that you are 
married. How would my Lady Aylesbury have liked to 
be asked in a parish church for three Sundays running ? 
I really believe she would have worn her weeds for ever, 
rather than have passed through so impudent a ceremony." 

I may mention here that well within my own memory 
those who ranked as gentlefolks were almost always mar- 
ried by licence, and it was regarded as infra dig. to be 
" asked " publicly in church. It is now, as we know, com- 
mon for gentle and simple alike to have their " banns put 
up," and this change is one very greatly for the better. 

But to return to the congratulatory exclamation men- 
tioned above. As an example of how good old usages will 
die out, and thus to a certain extent justify the publication 
•of this volume, I may state that at Tealby in Lincolnshire, 
some fifty years ago, the clerk always used to say " God 
speed them well " after the publication of the banns. This 
man died, and his successor discontinued the use of the 
words, although the squire of the parish begged that the 
custom should be retained. It has never been resumed. 

A slightly different usage from this I may mention. The 
Rev. T. Robinson of Ewshot, Hants, tells me that when he 
was at Eyam in Derbyshire, some thirty or more years 
ago, the oldest man in the congregation, and not the clerk, 
was accustomed to pronounce this formula. 

Another clergyman writes to say that the words of joy- 
wishing were sometimes used in the course of the marriage 
service. When he was appointed to the curacy of the 
1 Notes and Queries, September 25, 1880. 


Parish Church of Windermere, in 1863, and was about to 
take a wedding for the first time, the clerk, who was a 
well-known character in the lake district, begged him to 
make a pause when he got to the words, " Or else for ever 
hereafter hold his peace," " because," said he, '' I have some- 
thing to say." The clergyman made the desired pause, and 
the clerk at once added, "God speed them well." The 
rationale of this is evident. The priest is directed to chal- 
lenge those present to come forward and forbid the 
marriage, and the clerk, as representing the congregation 
officially, says in effect that not only do the people urge no 
impediment, but rather wish the couple "God speed." 

The clerk used to call this " blessing the couple," and 
regarded it as an immemorial custom. At the clerk's 
death it was discontinued. 

At Hope, near Sheffield, a somewhat different usage pre- 
vailed, and is, perhaps, still continued. The words expres- 
sive of good-will, pronounced by the clerk in a high key, 
followed immediately upon the act of the clergyman in 
joining the hands of the bride and bridegroom, saying, 
" Those whom God hath joined together let no man put 

There was a curious custom at Norham, in the diocese of 
Durham, which possibly still exists. If the banns are 
twice published and the marriage does not take place, the 
refusing party, whether the man or the woman, pays forty 
shilling's to the vicar for " scorning the Church." 

The Rev. J. H. Overton tells me that at Legbourne 
Church in Lincolnshire it is the custom to ring a peal of 
bells immediately after the service, when a couple have 
been " asked " in church for the last time. 

We must now consider the customs which are more im- 
mediately connected with the marriage ceremony. 

And first, I must speak of a very curious fashion which, 
I believe, is still prevalent in Wales, viz. the practice of 


" making a bidding," or of sending bidding letters, of which 
a specimen will be given lower down. This is so general 
in most parts of the Principality that printers usually keep 
the form in type, and make alterations in it as occasion 
requires. The custom in towns is confined to servants and 
mechanics, but in the country, farmers of the humbler sort 
make biddings. Of late years tea-parties have, in Car- 
marthen, been substituted for biddings, but persons attend- 
ing pay for what they get, and so incur no obligation. 
But recipients at a " bidding " are expected to return, and 
generally do return, all gifts of the above nature whenever 
called for upon a similar occasion. When a bidding is 
made it is usual for a large procession to accompany the 
young couple to church, and thence to the house where the 
bidding is held. Accompanying is considered an addition 
to the obligation conferred by the gift. " I have seen," says 
the writer from whom I have culled the above informa- 
tion, " I daresay, six hundred people in a wedding pro- 
cession. The men walk together, and the women together 
to church, and in returning they walk in pairs, or often in 
trios, one man between two women. In the country they 
ride, and there is generally a desperate race home to the 
' bidding,' where you would be surprised to see a comely 
lass, with Welsh hat on her head and ordinary dress, often 
take the lead of fifty or a hundred smart fellows, over 
rough roads that would shake your Astley riders out of 
their seats and propriety." 1 

The form of " bidding letter " referred to by the writer 
above quoted ran thus : — 

" Carmarthen, October 2nd, 1850. 
"As we intend to enter the matrimonial state on Tuesday, 
the 22nd of October instant, we are encouraged by our 
friends to make a bidding, on the occasion, the same day, at 

1 Notes and Queries, February 15, 1851. 


the new market-house, near the market-place, when and 
where the favour of your good and agreeable company- 
is respectfully solicited, and whatever donation you may 
be pleased to confer upon us then will be thankfully re- 
ceived, and warmly acknowledged, and cheerfully repaid 
whenever called for on a similar occasion, by your most 

obedient servants, 

" Harry Jones, Shoemaker. 

"Eliza Davies. 

" The young man, his father (John Jones, shoemaker), 
and his sister (Mary Jones), his grandmother (Nurse Jones), 
his uncle and aunt (George Jones, painter, and Mary, his 
wife), and his aunt (Elizabeth Rees), desire that all gifts 
due to them be returned to the young man on the above 
day, and will be thankful for all additional favours. 

" The young woman, her father and mother (Evan Davies, 
pig-drover, and Mary, his wife), and her brother and sisters 
(John, Hannah, Jane, and Annie Davies), desire that all gifts 
of the above nature, due to them, be returned to the young 
woman on the above day, and will be thankful for all 
additional favours conferred." 1 

1 The present custom in Paris is to send out bidding letters on the 
occasion of marriage. I give below, in the section on " Funeral Cus- 
toms," specimens of funeral bidding letters also used there. The fol- 
lowing are examples of those now sent out by Roman Catholic and 
Protestant gentle folk respectively — the latter being those relating to a 
mixed marriage. It need scarcely be said that " temple " is the word 
used to indicate a Calvinistic place of worship, whilst " Eglise " is con- 
fined to Roman Catholic churches. 

"Monsieur Charles , Avoud honoraire, Chevalier de la 

legion d'Honneur, a l'honneur de vous faire part du mariage de 

Mademoiselle Louise ■ , sa fille, avec Monsieur Jules , 

Sous-Chef de bureau a la Direction generate des Douanes (Ministere 
des Finances). 

" Et vous prie d'assister a la benediction nuptiale qui leur sera 


We now come to consider the question as to the proper 
place in the church where the earlier part of the marriage 
service should be conducted. Some people have thought 
that to have it in the nave was a mere modern ritualistic 
" fad," albeit, plainly ordered by the Prayer Book rubric. It 

donnee le Lundi — Fevrier 1890, a midi tres-pre'cis, en 1'Eclise 

St. . 

"7, rue ." 

" Madam — a l'honneur de vous faire part du mariage de son 

fils, Monsieur Jules , Sous-Chef de bureau a la Direction 

generale des Douanes (Minister des Finances), avec Mademoiselle 

" Et vous prie d'assister a la benediction nuptiale qui leur sera 
donnee le Lundi — Fevrier 1890, a, midi tres-preds, en l'Eglise 

St. . 

"6, rue ." 

When the invited person is expected at the wedding banquet, a card 
is enclosed to the following effect :-— 

' ' Monsieur Charles 

apres la Cer^monie Beligieuse. 

7, rue ." 

Here are the bidding letters in relation to a mixed marriage : — 

"Monsieur Henry a l'honneur de vous faire part de son 

mariage avec Mademoiselle . 

" Et vous prie d'assister a la benediction nuptiale qui leur sera 
donnee le Mardi — Avril 1890, au Temple du St. Esprit (rue Koque- 
pine) a 11 heures, et a l'Eglise St. Philippe du Roule a Midi precis. 

" 45, Avenue de 

" Madam a l'honneur de vous faire part du mariage de 

Mademoiselle , sa fille, avec Monsieur Henry . 

" Et vous prie d'assister a la benediction nuptiale qui leur sera 
donne"e, le Mardi — Avril 1890, au Temple du St. Esprit (rue Roque- 
pine) a 11 heures, et a l'Eglise St. Philippe du Roule, a Midi pricis. 

"7, rue ." 


will interest many to know that the Vicar of Kirkby Lons- 
dale has told me that, at the reparation of that church, 
about 1868, he said to the old clerk, born in 1788, that he 
could now take the earlier part of the marriage service in 
the body of the church, and the clerk replied : — " That is 
how it used to be when I was a boy." 

In the late Professor Sedgwick's little book about Dent, 
to which reference has already been made, the following 
passage occurs : — 

" The marriages, whether by license or by banns, were 
celebrated in the body of the church just under the reading 
desk till they reached that part of the service where the 
minister pronounced the parties to be ' man and wife,' etc., 
and added the blessing. All, then, moved up to the Com- 
munion rails, and the clergyman from the north side of the 
Communion table read the concluding part of the service, 
and finally the entry was made in the parish register 
placed on that table." 

At Witham in Essex it is, or was, the custom to perform 
the first part of the marriage service at the font. When 
the Rev. A. Snell was appointed to the benefice in 1873, he 
spoke to a bridegroom about this usage, and he (the bride- 
groom) particularly requested that he might be. married at 
the font, as he liked old customs. 

It would be tedious to record the evidence which I have 
bearing upon this usage, and I will only cite what the Rev. 
F. Hockin of Phillack, Cornwall, tells me with reference to 
his parish. He says : — " In the two parishes of which I am 
rector there is no tradition of the first part of the marriage 
service having been read elsewhere than at the chancel 
steps, the parties proceeding to the altar rails at the psalm. 
My grandfather, my father, and myself having been rectors 
of this benefice for more than 110 years, I may pretty 


confidently affirm that this custom has obtained throughout 
that time at least." 

As an illustration of the way in which old usages die 
out, I may mention a fact told me by a clergyman, when 
he was Vicar of St. Mary's, Wolverhampton, who stated 
that he was informed by his mother that the custom of 
reading the first part of the marriage service in the body of 
the church was first broken through at Kelvedon in Essex, by 
her mother's desire, at the marriage of her elder sister to 
the Rev. T. Henderson of Messing, by the then Bishop of 
London (Blomfield), in whose diocese Kelvedon then was. 
Dr. Blomfield was Bishop of London from 1828 to 1856. 
This is very far from being a solitary instance amongst 
high ecclesiastical personages, in which supposed law- 
makers have been law-breakers. 

The pre-Reformation rule was to begin the marriage 
service at the door of the church. In his " Wyf of Bathe,' 
Chaucer refers to this custom : — 

" Housbondes atte chirch dure I have had fyve.'' 

This old usage was abandoned by authority in the time 
of Edward VI. Yet I have reason to think that it was not 
entirely given up. There is a poem of Herrick's, written 
about 1640, which is entitled, " The Entertainment or Porch 
Verse at the Marriage of Mr. Hen. Northly." Herrick 
was a Devonshire vicar, and in that county many ancient 
customs were long retained. 

The late Canon Humble, writing in 1874, gave an account 
of some curious customs which had come under his notice 
in the north of England. 

One is that the bridegroom placed upon the priest's office- 
book a purse, which is supposed to represent " all his worldly 
goods," together with the ring, to show that he gives all to 
his wife as equally at her disposal. 


This is really a very ancient custom, dating- from the 
historic times of the Greeks and Romans, and which seems 
to have prevailed amongst Eastern nations. In the Middle 
Ages in the north of Europe, the bride, on the morning 
after the wedding, had the privilege of demanding the 
" morgengabe " or morning present; to wit, any sum of 
money, or any estate which she might fix upon, and which 
the husband could not in honour refuse. Something of 
the same kind prevailed in England under the name of 
" Dow purse.'' " Dow " being, according to the old diction- 
ary writer, " Nic. Bailey," an old word signifying " to 
give." When Clovis was married to the Princess Clotilde, 
he offered, by proxy, a sou and a denier, which became the 
marriage offering by law in France, and to this day pieces 
of money are given to the bride varying in value only 
according to the social rank and opulence of the parties. 1 

Canon Humble added that " the clergyman was ex- 
pected to wish the couple health and happiness, and after the 
signing of the register, to kiss the bride. The late Dr. Eaine 
has recorded how a peculiarly modest priest, who was a 
stranger, once marrying a couple in a rural parish, was 
surprised by the wedding party still tarrying in the vestry; 
and on asking if anything more was wanted, was told by 
the bridegroom, ' You haven't kissed Betty,' and he had to 
do it, though sorely against the grain. Another person 
had also that privilege, viz. the first person who arrived 
at the house after the marriage. In the border parishes 
the horses of the attendants were all tethered outside the 
sacred enclosure, and as soon as the register was signed, all 
rushed out of the vestry and a race began, each going 
across country to win the coveted prize. Civilisation has, 
I suppose, stopped this wild custom." 

The canon further states : — " I have myself been stopped 
on the road, and compelled to drink the health of the 
1 Chambers' " Book of Days," vol. i., p. 719. 


bride and bridegroom by a posse of young men riding in 
advance of the party on their way from church. The 
'best man' undertakes this office, and 1 believe himself 
supplies the liquor." 

This custom extends also to Scotland. A " dry-lipped " 
wedding is supposed to be certainly unfortunate. 

Money, too, is very frequently scattered amongst the 
people gathered round the church. Nothing less than 
silver was to be so scattered. " The scramble," said Canon 
Humble, " was dreadful to see.'' 

In connection with what was said above about the 
bridegroom placing a purse on the book, as well as the 
ring, another curious custom was formerly, and still may 
be, usual in the north of England. A clergyman, describ- 
ing the first wedding which he took in a northern parish, 
says that, in the vestry, after the service, the bridegroom 
put half-a-sovereign into his hand, a sum much in excess 
of the fee, and asked for the change. " I gave it to him," 
says my informant, "according to his request, but as I did 
so I plainly observed a shade of displeasure pass over the 
open countenance of the bride, which was evidently shared by 
the whole wedding party. I felt conscious of having un- 
wittingly given offence, nor had I long to wait for an 
explanation. The old clerk, on his return from accompany- 
ing the newly-married couple to the church porch, said at 
once, ' Oh, sir ! you should have put the siller into the 
bride's hand ; the money was given to you that you might 
do so.'" 

Mr. Henderson, in his " Folklore of the Northern 
Counties," 1 tells us that throughout Cleveland, he who 
gives away the bride claims the first kiss in right of his 
temporary paternity. Referring to the custom mentioned 
above of a kiss from the clergyman being expected by the 
bride, a correspondent says that only a few years before 

1 P. 39. 


he wrote, " a fair lady from Durham, who was married in 
the south of England, so undoubtedly reckoned on the 
clerical salute that, after waiting for it in vain, she boldly 
took the initiative, and bestowed a kiss upon the much 
amazed south country vicar." 

At Knutsford, Cheshire, on the occasion of a wedding, 
when the bride has set out for church, a relative invariably 
spreads on the pavement, which is composed of pebbles, a 
quantity of silver sand, there called " greet," in the forms 
of wreaths of flowers, and writes with the same material 
wishes for her happiness. This, of course, is soon dis- 
covered by others, and immediately, especially if the bride 
and bridegroom are favourites, there appears before most of 
the houses numerous flowers in sand. It is said that the 
custom arose from the only church which they had being 
without bells, and therefore the people adopted it to give 
notice of a wedding. On the return of a party from church 
it is usual to throw money to the boys, and if this is 
omitted they keep up a cry of " A butter-milk wedding." 1 

I learn from Notes and Queries that at Monkswearmouth 
a custom is sometimes observed of sprinkling with sawdust 
the road by which a wedding procession is to go to church. 
Sea sand was formerly used. This is only done for 
marriages in church. 2 

The Vicar of Cranbrook in Kent tells me that it is the 
custom in his parish, when a newly married couple leave 
the church to strew the path with the emblems of the 
bridegroom's calling, so that carpenters walk on shavino-s, 
gardeners on flowers, farmers on cut grass, shoemakers on 
leather parings, etc. He adds, " I lately officiated at a 
butcher's wedding here. On leaving the church, not only 
were sheep skins laid down to the church gates to walk on, 
but two men, each with a lamb in his arms, decked with 

1 Notes and Queries, Dec. 24, 1853. 

2 Ibid., March 4, 1876. 


wedding favours, gravely placed themselves at the head of 
the procession." 

I fancy that this custom may be confined to Kent, for the 
only other instance that I have heard of was told to me by 
the widow of the late rector of Harrietsham in that county. 
This lady remembers a carpenter being married there in 
winter, and the people strewed the church path with shav- 
ings for the bride and bridegroom to walk over after they 
left the church. 

In Cumberland, as I understand, it is quite against the 
rule for the fathers and mothers of the couple to be united 
to attend a marriage. The Rev. A. G. Loftie of Beckermet 
tells me that he has had but two fathers doing so in nine 
years, and only three in twelve years. An old farmer who 
lived on the border of Scotland gave as a reason for this, 
that the idea is still in force that the bridegroom runs away 
with the bride without the parents' consent. The old 
custom was for him to take her up behind him on his horse, 
and to ride away with her. 

There is, I am told, in the eastern counties a popular 
dislike on the part of newly married couples to sign their 
names in the Church Register, preferring to put a mark 
instead, even though they can write very fairly. I have 
no idea as to the meaning of this. 

In his "Folklore of the Northern Counties," Mr. 
Henderson relates a singular local custom which still exists 
in the village of Whitburn, near Sunderland. It is, he 
says, usual there to send what are called " hot pots " to the 
church to meet the bride and bridegroom as they come out. 
A gentleman of that place thus describes his own marriage : 
"After the vestry scene, the bridal party having formed in 
procession on leaving the church, we were stopped in the 
porch by a row of five or six women ranged on our left 
hand, each holding a large mug with a cloth over it. These 
were in turn handed to me, and handed by me to my wife, 


"who, after taking a sip, returned it to me. It was then 
handed to the next couple, and so on in the same form to 
all the party. The composition in these mugs was mostly, 
I am sorry to say, simply horrible ; one or two were very 
fair, and one very good. They are sent to the church by 
all classes, and are considered a great compliment. I have 
never heard of the custom elsewhere. Here it has existed 
beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitant, and an aged 
iishwoman, who has been married some sixty-five years, 
tells us that at her wedding there were seventy hot pots." 
May not Shakespeare be alluding to this custom, or to 

•one akin to it, when, in " The Taming of the Shrew," he 

.says : — 

" After many ceremonies done, 
He calls for wine. A health, quoth he, as if 
He had been aboard carousing to his mates 
After a storm ; quaffed off the muscadel, 
And threw the sops all in the sexton's face, 
Having no other reason 
But that his beard grew thin and hungerly, 
And seemed to ask him sops as he was drinking." 1 

A correspondent to Notes and Queries, some thirty or 
more years back, wrote as follows : — " On the occasion of 
iny marriage in Glamorganshire, nearly twenty years ago, 
and in passing through the village adjoining that in which 
the ceremony had been performed, my carriage was stayed 
by the villagers, holding a band of twisted evergreens and 
Hewers, who good-humouredly refused to let my wife and 
self pass until we had paid them a toll." 2 

Very much like this is the following : — " A gentleman 
states that when he was holding a curacy in Somersetshire 
adjoining the Bristol Channel, the village children, on the 
occasion of a wedding, used to fasten the gates of the 

1 Act iii., scene 2. 
Notes awl Queries (1858), p. 48. 


church with evergreens and flowers. The floral bond a 
silver key never failed to unloose. 1 

A singular custom, says Mr. Henderson, 2 prevails at the 
village of Belford in Northumberland of making the 
bridal pair, with their attendants, leap over a stone placed 
in their path outside the church porch. This is called the 
"louping"or "petting" stone, and it is said on the spot 
that the bride must leave all her pets and humours behind 
her when she crosses it. At the neighbouring village of 
Emhleton, two stout young lads place a wooden bench 
across the door of the church porch, assist the bride, bride- 
groom, and her friends to surmount the obstacle, and then 
look out for a donation from the bridegroom. 

At Crosby Ravensworth, Westmoreland, a similar custom 
is in vogue. When the service is over, and the bridal 
party is about to leave the church, the children from the 
village school congregate round the door, and hold the 
handle, so as to prevent egress, until the bridegroom has 
passed some coin under the door. A further scramble for 
halfpence is looked for at the churchyard gate. 

Although this volume is professedly confined to the re- 
•cording of church customs, perhaps a Scottish Presbyterian 
usage may be introduced here without impropriety, as it 
bears upon what has been related above. 

It is well known that in the Scottish Establishment the 
marriage ceremony is often performed at the house of the 
bride. About the time it is expected that the young 
couple will start upon their honeymoon jaunt, all the boys 
and girls in the neighbourhood assemble in front of the 
house, and amuse themselves by calling out " Bell money," 
" Bell money," " Shabby wedding," " Shabby wedding — > 
■cannot spare a bawbee." These shouts are redoubled when 
the door is opened to let the bride and bridegroom out, who 

1 Notes and Queries (1858), p. 178. 

2 "Folklore of the Northern Counties," p. 38. 


are accompanied to the carriage by most of the company. 
And as the pushing of the crowd would be incon- 
venient, someone of the party at this moment showers a 
lot of coppers and small silver amongst them, thereby 
drawing their attention from the young folks, who, under 
cover of this diversion, are driven off. 1 

The wedding gifts are not always donations of money. 
Another writer gives the following description of a custom 
witnessed by himself at a wedding in the East Riding of 
Yorkshire. He says that on the bride alighting from her 
carriage at her father's door, a plate covered with morsels 
of bridecake was flung from the window of the second 
storey upon the heads of the crowd congregated in the 
streets below, and the divination, I was told, consists in- 
observing the fate which attends its downfall. If it 
reaches the ground in safety without being broken, the 
omen is a most unfavourable one. If, on the other hand,, 
the plate is shattered to pieces, and the more the better,, 
the auspices are looked upon as most happy. 2 

And while thus incidentally touching upon what may be^ 
termed a marriage superstition, I may mention that Mr. J.. 
T. Micklethwaite, F.SA., tells me that in the south of York- 
shire an idea prevails that during the marriage ceremony 
the person who speaks the loudest in answer to the question 
put by the clergyman will die first. 

I have given various examples of friendly feeling as ex- 
hibited in connection with weddings by those not immedi- 
ately concerned. The following instance of a curse 
pronounced on such an occasion carries with it a certain 
amount of interest, though not of the most agreeable kind. 

During March, 1850, the clergyman married a couple in 
the Parish Church of St. Peter's, Thanet. An old woman, 
an aunt of the bridegroom, displeased at the marriage, stood 

1 Notes and Qucriex, March 3, 1855. 
- Ibid., June 4, 1853. 


at the, church gate, and pronounced an anathema upon the 
married pair. She then bought a new broom, went home, 
swept -her house, and hung the broom over the door. By 
this she intimated her rejection of her nephew, and forbade 
him to enter her house. She had probably some precedent 
for this, but I have not been able to discover what it was. 1 
Let us turn now to a more pleasant marriage usage. The 
Vicar of Helpringham, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, states that 
from time immemorial it has been the custom for the 
wedding party to accompany the bride and bridegroom in 
a walk round the village in the evening after tea on the 
wedding day. This is still done, but it is not so common 
as it once was. Mr. Micklethwaite tells me that he has 
himself witnessed such a procession. 

We find in various connections some odd fancies pre- 
vailing amongst our ancestors relative to the use of church 
doors. Here is one related to me by the Rev. A. C. Lefroy. 
At Longdon, near Tewkesbury, the people had a custom at 
weddings of going in at one door and out at another. This, 
says my correspondent, I learnt when I was repairing my 
church on first coming to the parish in 1S68, and happened 
to close the second outlet. 

Akin to this I may mention what a lady at Torquay has 
told me as to an idea popularly entertained at Morchard 
Bishop in North Devon. It was there thought ill luck for 
a newly married pair if they chanced to leave the church 
by the small door on the north side, which was always 
used by the clergy. 

Not many years ago, as the vicar informs me, when a 
wedding of any importance occurred at Winchcombe, 
Gloucestershire, the altar used to be covered with a coarse 
table-cloth, and two oval glass dishes were placed thereon 
together with the register books. 

In the section following on '' Funeral Customs " it will be 
1 Notes and Queries, April 6, 1850. 


seen that there was formerly a practice in some parishes 
for persons attending to place an offering upon the altar for 
the clergyman. It seems probable that the glass dishes 
were intended to receive donations from the wedding party 
when they went to the altar to assist in the signing of the 

A custom prevails, or did prevail, in Manchester, as the 
Rev. J. A. Lacey tells me, of giving to the first couple 
married in a new church a Bible — of the " Family " variety 
if the priest is generous, and can afford it — and also a 
Prayer Book. 

Here is a curious item which I cull from Notes and 
Queries. The writer states that he visited the quaint old 
church of St. John-in-the- Wilderness, near Exmonth, in 
1850, and asked the old man who points out its battered 
beauties why there were still books in the reading-desk, 
adding : — " He informed me that marriage and funeral 
services were still performed there. This, however, is the 
only authority I have on the subject." 1 

There is a very wholesome tradition in some parts of the 
country that a person ought not to be married until he has 
been confirmed. A former assistant curate of Helmsley in 
the North Riding of Yorkshire states that this was the 
prevailing feeling in that parish when he was there more 
than twenty years ago. Indeed, once a young man asked 
him as a great favour to marry him on the promise that he 
would be confirmed on the first opportunity. In the parish 
of Legbourne, Lincolnshire, the vicar tells me that the same 
feeling is prevalent. 

I find that a very curious custom exists in some villages 
in the north of Nottinghamshire. Wheat is thrown over a 
newly married couple with the exclamation, " Bread for 
life and pudding for ever," which, I suppose, is intended to 
mean, " May you not only have bare necessaries but also be 
1 Notes and Queries, October 4, 1851. 


able to afford some luxuries.", In Sussex also, I believe, 
that wheat is thrown on such occasions. The throwing of 
rice at the carriage when the newly joined couple are de- 
parting, which is a very general custom, is akin to this, and 
is intended, of course, to represent symbolically a wish that 
the bridal may be a fruitful one. 

The following custom I imagine to be peculiar to the 
Scottish Establishment, but I may, perhaps, introduce it as 
an illustration. Speaking of what took place in the last 
century, a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine says that,, 
" In their marriages (Inverness is especially mentioned) 
they do not use the ring as in England ; but the bride, if 
she be of the middle class, is conducted to the church by 
two men, who take her under the arms and hurry the poor 
unwilling creature along the street, as a pickpocket i& 
dragged to a horsepond in London, she having been at- 
tended the evening before by the bridesmaids, who, with 
great ceremony, washed her feet." 1 

An odd formality, I understand, took place in Galashiels 
in 1867, which the parties believed to constitute a legal 
marriage. They each took a handful of meal and knelt 
down facing each other, after placing a basin between them. 
Both then put their handful of meal in the basin and 
mixed it, in token that they would not sever till death did 
them part. After swearing to this effect on the Bible, they 
rose up and declared themselves man and wife. This was 
chronicled in the Scotsman at the time, but I am unable to 
give the reference. 

Anyone who cares to turn to February 15th in Chambers' 
" Book of Days " will find some very curious information 
about odd marriages, which at one time or another have 
taken place. The article is far too long to quote, but one 
or two extracts may be interesting. 

It is noted that the announcements of marriages pub- 
1 Gentleman's Magazine (1754), p. 370. 


lished in the Gentleman's Magazine during the greater part 
of the last centurjr included very precise statements of the 
portions brought by the several brides. Thus : — 

"Mr. N. Tillotson, an eminent preacher among the people 
called Quakers, and a relative of Archbishop Tillotson, to 
Miss , with £7,000." 

Here is another excerpt : — 

" Mr. P. Bowen to Miss Nicholls of Queenhithe, with 

The next bridegroom appears to have done rather better 
pecuniarily : — 

" Sir George C to the Widow Jones, with £1,000 a 

year, besides ready-money." 

The article above mentioned gives some quaint instances 
of persons who, so to speak, had been very much married. 
Though some of them are outside the immediate object of 
our inquiry it seems a pity not to place them on record. 

The writer says : — " It is usually considered a noteworthy 
circumstance for a man or woman to have been married 
three times ; but of old this number would have been 
thought little of. St. Jerome mentions a widow who 
married her twenty-second husband, who in his turn had 
been married to twenty wives — surely an experienced 
couple ! A woman named Elizabeth Masi, who died in 
Florence, in 1768, had been married to seven husbands, all 
of whom she outlived. She married the last of the seven 
at the age of seventy. When on her deathbed she recalled 
the good and had points of each of her husbands, and 
having impartially weighed them in the balance, she 


singled out her fifth spouse as the favourite, and desired 
that her remains might be interred near his. The death of 
a soldier is recorded in 1784, who had had five wives, and 
his widow, aged ninety, wept over the grave of her fourth 
husband. The writer who mentioned these facts naively 
added, ' The said soldier was very much attached to the 
marriage state.' There is an account of a gentleman who 
had been married to four wives, and who lived to be a 
hundred and fifteen years old. When he died he left 
twenty-three children alive and well, some of the said chil- 
dren being from three to four score. A gentleman died at 
Bordeaux, in 1772, who had been married sixteen times." 

In Notes and Queries of July 29, 1876, a number of 
instances are given, ranging from 1723 to 1840, of women 
having been married " in the smock " or in a sheet. This 
was done from a mistaken notion that it freed the husband 
from responsibility for the woman's debts, and in one case 
(Whitehaven, 1766) it was to protect the woman's property 
from the creditors of her husband. In another case the 
lady, it is said, came to church without any clothes on at 
all, but the parson refused to officiate. I have read of a 
clergyman who, under similar circumstances, went through 
the service, on the ground that nothing was said in the 
rubric about the woman's dress, as is the case in the 
churching service. This gentleman evidently did not adopt 
the view taken by the judges in the Maconackie case, that 
■" omission is prohibition." 

In the same publication, under date March 5, 1853, a 
writer states that he remembers that his brother, when 
curate of a parish in Lincolnshire, married a woman 
enveloped only in a sheet. I cite this instance to show 
that the strange custom has continued to within a measur- 
able distance of our own day. This is the latest case that 
I know of. 


Among the many clerical scandals prevalent in the for- 
mer half of the last century were what were known as- 
" Fleet marriages," which were so common that between 
October 19, 1704, and February 12, 1705, no fewer than two- 
hundred and ninety-five were celebrated within the " Eules," 
without licence or certificate of banns. The marriages were 
generally performed in some low public-house or barber's 
shop. The officiants were clergymen of the lowest type,, 
who were confined in the Fleet prison for debt. Sometimes 
publicans kept these clerics on a salary of twenty shillings 
a week. Advertisements were exhibited or published, in- 
viting people to come and be married without the usual 
restrictions. Here is a specimen : — " G.R. At the true 
chapel at the Old Red Hand and Mitre, three doors up 
Fleet Lane, and next door to the White Swan, marriages 
are performed by authority by the Rev. Mr. Symson, 
educated at the university of Cambridge, and late chaplain 
to the Earl of Rothes. N.B. — Without imposition." Touts 
were employed to get customers, and received a shilling 
each. Some of these clergymen officiated at their own 
lodgings, but the majority were employed by the keepers 
of the marriage houses. The landlord usually acted as 
clerk, and if the clergyman were not salaried, they divided 
the fee between them. Each marriage house had a regular 

In 1821 the Government purchased some of these 
registers, and- deposited them with the Registrar of the 
Consistory Court of London. Thus the scandalous prac- 
tices which had been enacted at the Fleet became publicly 
known. Many of these entries were falsified, as, for 
example : — 

"5 Nov. 1742 was married Benjamen Richards of the 
parish of St. Martins in the Fields, Br., and Judith Lance 
Do. Sp. at the Bull and Garter, and gave [a guinea] for an 


ante-date to March y e 11th in the same year, which Lilley 
complied with, and put 'em in his book accordingly, there 
being a vacancy in the book suitable to the time." 

Here is another : — 

" Mr. Comyns gave me half a guinea to find a bride- 
groom, and defray all expences. Parson 2s. 6d. : Husband 
do., and 5s. 6d. myself." 

Both these entries seem to have come from private 
registers. It was no uncommon thing to provide a bride- 
groom. A case is known in which a man was married four 
times, receiving five shillings on each occasion " for his 

Pennant says that in walking by the prison in his youth, 
he had been often accosted with, " Sir, will you please to 
walk in and be married ? " And he states that painted 
signs of a male and female hand conjoined, with the in- 
scription, "Marriages performed within," were common 
along the building. 

Whoever wanted to be married quietly and quickly, 
without exposure or inquiry, resorted to the Fleet. The 
registers contain the names of all kinds of persons, from the 
barber to the officer in the guards, from the pauper to the 
peer. Chambers, who has a long article about these mar- 
riages in his " Book of Days," under July 24, gives a list of 
aristocratic names as appearing in the Fleet registers. The 
following covers a good deal of ground : — " Magistrates and 
parochial authorities helped to swell the gains of the Fleet 
parsons, the former settling certain cases by sending the 
accused to the altar instead of to the gallows, and the latter 
getting rid of a female pauper by giving a gratuity to some 
poor wretch belonging to another parish to take her " for 
better, for worse." 


Things got to such a pitch that, in 1753, a Bill was intro- 
duced, which became law the following year, making the 
solemnisation of matrimony in any other place than a 
church or chapel, and without banns or licence, felony, 
punishable by transportation, and declaring all such 
marriages void. 

The chaplain of the Savoy, however, on the plea that 
being extra -parochial it was not bound by the new 
Marriage Law, ventured to issue licences. A public ad- 
vertisement was actually put forth in 1754 to this effect : — 
" By authority, marriages performed with the utmost 
privacy, decency, and regularity at the ancient Royal 
Chapel of St. John the Baptist in the Savoy, where regular 
and authentic registers have been kept from the time of 
the Reformation (being two hundred years and upwards) 
to this day. The expense, not more than one guinea, the 
five shilling stamp included. There are five private ways 
by land to this chapel, and two by water." In 1755, the 
chaplain married no less than 1,190 couples. The authori- 
ties began to move, and a curate — one Grierson — was ap- 
pointed, the chaplain disappearing from public, but still 
issuing licences. The result was that they were both tried, 
convicted, and sentenced to fourteen years transportation, 
and 400 marriages were declared void. 1 

The term " May Fair Marriages " is a more or less 
familiar one. The Rev. Alexander Keith had a chapel 
there, built in 1730, and carried on a great business in 
matrimony. He is said to have married nearly 200 couples 
in a day, and the day before the Marriage Act came into 
operation no less than 51 couples were united there. 

But if for a time there were such scandals in the English 
Church, the Presbyterians of Scotland, at any rate, were 
not in a position to throw stones. 

About 1745 there existed a sort of Gretna Green in the 
1 "Book of Days," vol. ii., p. 120. 


Canongate, Edinburgh. A gentleman writing from Perth, 
quotes the "Newgate Kalendar" (vol. ii., p. 269): — "It 
was customary for some of the ministers of the Church of 
Scotland who were out of employment to marry people at 
the ale-houses in the same manner that the Fleet marriages 
were conducted in London. Sometimes people of fortune 
thought it prudent to apply to these marc-iage brokers, but 
as their chief business lay amongst the lower ranks of 
people they were deridingly called by the name of ' Buckle 
the Beggars.' Most of these marriages were solemnised at 
public-houses in the Canongate." x 

Not long ago public interest was excited by a breach of 
promise case in which the jury found a verdict of £10,000 
damages for the lady plaintiff. Few persons are aware 
that in 1747, one Miss Davids, of Castle Yard, Holborn, 
brought such an action against the Rev. Dr. Wilson, Pre- 
bendary of Worcester, Canon of Lincoln, and Vicar of 
Newark-on-Trent. The damages were laid at £10,000, and 
the jury gave a verdict for the plaintiff' with £7,000 dam- 
ages. In this case it would seem that there had been some 
kind of betrothal ceremony of a formal character, for the 
writer of the paragraph in the Gentleman's Magazine, 
whence I gather the information, goes on to state that " they 
both had declared the same publicly in a solemn manner." 2 

What were known as " Penny Weddings " were formerly 
common in Scotland. When a servant maid had behaved 
well in a place, her master and mistress frequently made 
what was called a " Penny Wedding " for her when she 
married. They provided a dinner or supper, and invited 
all their relations and friends, and in the evening, when 
there was music and dancing, the bride went round the 
room, and saluted all the men, during which ceremony 

1 Notes and Queries, April 17, 1852. 
3 Gentleman's Magazine (1747), p. 293. 



every person in the company put money into a dish, ac- 
cording to his or her inclination and ability, and by this 
means the newly married couple often procured a sum 
sufficient for persons in their condition to begin the world 
with very comfortably. x 

The following information has been sent to me by the 
Eev. Earnest Geldart, Rector of Little Braxted, Witham, 
Essex, where, by the way, is one of the tiniest, but one of 
the prettiest country churches that I ever saw. In looking 
over the Register of Marriages in his church he found the 
following item : — 

" May 21, 1730, John Fitch, single man . . . Mary Borley, 
single woman . . . were married by licence." 

This, my friend tells me, is the first entry in the register 
of Little Braxted Church, and, taken by itself, is not very 
remarkable ; but when the next entry is the same (with 
change of name), and the next but one again the same, it 
naturally occurs to one that some cause has been at work to 
produce an effect so apparently unlikely in a small country 
parish a hundred and fifty years ago. 

The rector accordingly set himself to work to analyse 
the marriage returns, with the following results : — 



2 Marr 






Licence. 1 by B 
' , 












, . o „ 




o , 




o , 




o „ 


1 Gentleman's Magazine (1754), p. 370. 


From 1755 the marriages were by banns, or " bands," as 
some of the officiating ministers preferred to spell it, with 
few exceptions, till the licensing system seems to take a 
fresh vitality in 1784, when this entry occurs : — 

" Marriages entered according to Act of Parliament by 
licence granted instead of stamps." 

What the cause of this " licence " was may, the rector 
thinks, be gathered from an examination of the dates (when 
they are given) of the banns. 

Usually the entry contains no reference to any particular 
date of " asking,' - but simply states in these or similar 
words that the contracting parties had been " asked in 
church on three several Sundays, and no impediment 

When, however, the register enters into detail, the dates 
stand thus: — Aug. 5, Aug. 19, Sept. 12; Jan. 12, Jan. 26, 
Feb. 9, etc. etc. Mr. Geldart continues : — 

"Here, I think, is the solution of the problem. Why 
should labouring single men and single women seek 
marriage by licence, whether granted by the Archdeacon of 
Colchester, or by licence instead of stamps, according to Act 
of Parliament ? 

" Because the Parish Church was so seldom opened that 
it was difficult to get banns published even at intervals of 
a fortnight. The officiating minister makes no reference to 
clerical liberality, but it seems probable that the non- 
resident rector preferred to pay the cost of stamps or 
licence on the rare occasion of a wedding, rather than be 
taxed by the provision of regular duty. 

" How rare were the visits of the rector may be judged 
from the fact that no entry stands in the rector's name from 
the beginning to the end of the book — 1730 to 1813 ; for 
the first three years, however, the entries are unsigned, but 


written in a hand bearing some resemblance to that of 
'Norman Mead, rector/ who wrote the title of the book. 
After that come entries by ' curates,' ' ministers,' ' officiating 
ministers,' following each other in swift succession. 

" At the end of one entry stands written in a triumphant 
flourish : — ' Duty paid thus far.' " 

A few words on the taxes on marriages, etc., imposed in 
the reign of William III., will be interesting. M. C. Ross 
writes : — " The first instance of which I am aware of a tax 
on marriages in this country occurs in the 5th of William 
and Mary, c. 21. The war in which William engaged soon 
rendered it necessary to tax other incidents of humanity, 
and accordingly the 6th and 7th of William III., c. 6, was 
passed, granting to His Majesty certain rights and duties 
upon marriages, births, deaths, and burials, and upon 
bachelors and widowers (a widely spread net), for the term 
of five years, ' for carrying on the war against France with 
vigour." The taxes on births, marriages, and burials were 
continued indefinitely by 7 and 8 William III., c. 35. 
I know not when this Act was repealed, but by 23 George 
III., c. 67, taxes were again imposed on burials, births, 
marriages, and christenings, and by 25 George I II., c. 75, 
the taxes were extended to Dissenters. By 34 George III., 
c. 11, these taxes were repeated, and they ceased on October 
1, 1794," 1 

1 Notes and Queries, June 22, 1850. 



" Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs." * These 
words, which Shakespeare puts into the king's mouth, 
though appropriate enough to open the subject which we 
are about to consider, will not, I trust, be regarded as ex- 
pressive of the dolesomeness of this portion of my book. 
Although the subject is a solemn one, I venture to think 
that readers may peruse it without any fear of its bringing 
on an attack of the " dismals.'' 

It is, as everybody knows, a very usual thing now for 
church folk to have choral funerals. There are, however, 
still amongst us persons who regard such functions as mere 
modern " ritualistic " innovations. It will be well for them 
to know that chorally conducted funerals were common 
three hundred years ago. Indeed, in upper and middle 
class funerals (in towns at any rate) music, as a rule, 
formed a part in the post-Reformation Church of England 
in years long gone by. In his " History of the Puritans," 
Neal tells us that Mr. Cradley, who was the intruding 
minister at Cripplegate Church, seeing a corpse being borne 
for burial there, attended by clerks in their surplices, 
threatened to shut the doors against them. The singing 
men, however, resisted, resolving to go through with their 
work till the alderman's deputy threatened to lay them by 
the heels for breaking the peace. Upon this, we are told, 
they retired, but they complained to the archbishop, who 

1 Richard III., act iii, scene 2. 


sent for Cradley, deprived him of his living, and confined 
him to his house for saying that be would not suffer the 
wolf to come to his flock. From Strype's " History of 
Parker " we learn that such choral funerals were customary 
at the time concerning which he was writing. 

It may perhaps be remembered that Shakespeare, in the 
play of " Cymbeline," when describing the preparation of 
Imogen's apparently dead body for its burial, makes 
Arviragus say : — 

" Be't so, 
And let us, Polydore, though now our voices 
Have got the mannish crack, sing him to the ground, 
As once our mother, use like note and words." 

From this it may be inferred that a choir of boys was 
in Shakespeare's day the customary use at funerals. 

Anyone who would have confirmation of this could 
scarcely do better than turn over the pages of the curious 
and valuable " Diary of Henry Machyn : Citizen and 
Merchant Tailor of London, from 1550 to 1563." In these 
modern days we should call him " undertaker," and I shall 
have to quote from his book later on. As regards the 
point now being dealt with, it seems quite worth while to 
transcribe three entries in his diary which occur in the 
same page of the Camden Society's printed edition of the 
MSS. volume now before me. 1 They relate to the year 
1560, i.e. Queen Elizabeth's second year. It will be 
observed that " spellynge " was not one of the writer's 
strong points. 

" The xij day, the wyche was the vj day of January, was 
bered in Sant Benetts at Powlles warff Master Antony 

Hyll, on the quen('s) gentjdlan of and a xvj clarkes 

syngyng to the chyrche, and to the berehyng." 

1 P. 247. 


" The xvj day of January was bered at St. Aus(tins) 
Jakobe the hussar * of Powlles Skolle ; at hys berehyng 
wher a xx clarkes syngyng you to the chyrche, and [there] 
was a sermon." 

This extract shows that funerals with choral adjuncts 
were not at that day confined to persons of social standing, 
•or of municipal importance. 

The next entry in the diary is somewhat different in 
■character, but for that reason perhaps the more valuable. 

" The xvij day of January was bered in Sant Peters in 
Cornehylle Master Flammoke, grocer, and he gayff mony 

gownes of blake, and he gave to pore men , and he was 

cared to the chyrche withowt syngyng or darks, and at 
the chyrche a sphalme songe after Genevay, and a sermon 
and bered contenentt." 

The ringing of the " Passing Bell " on the event of a 
parishioner being moribund is a very old custom. So far 
as post-Keformation custom is concerned, we find the 
practice enjoined by the advertisements of 1564, wherein 
it is enjoined : — " That when any Christian body is in 
passing that the bell be tolled, and that the curate be 
■specially called for to comfort the sick person; and after 
the time of his passing to ring no more than one short 
peal, and one before the burial, and another short peal 
after the burial." 

It is worth noting that the substance of this direction is 
■embodied in the 67th canon of a.d. 1603. 

"Passing," of course, signifies "departing," and the bell 
was intended as a warning to those alive and well that 
one of their neighbours was passing to an onward stage in 
life's journey. No doubt the original design was to ask' 

1 Usher. 


the prayers of all who heard it in behalf of the departing 
soul, and as Shakespeare says in " Henry IV. " : — 

" And his tongue 
Sounds ever after as a sudden bell 
Remembered knolling a departed friend." 

The custom of ringing the church bell in connection with 
the death of a parishioner is a much less religious custom 
than it formerly was. It has degenerated into a mere 
announcement to the parishioners that one of their neigh- 
bours has passed a step forward, and is now no longer in 
visible contact with his friends on earth. Wheatley,. 
whose well-known commentary on the Book of Common 
Prayer first appeared in A.D. 1710, takes the high religious 
view of the object of the passing bell. He says: — "Our 
church, in imitation of the saints of former ages, calls on 
the minister and others who are at hand to assist their- 
brother in his last extremity. In order to this she directs 
that when anyone is passing out of this life a bell shall 
be tolled," etc. etc. 

I gather from Dr. Rock x that in Anglo-Saxon times the- 
" passing bell," strictly so-called, was not in use, but that 
only the death knell was rung, as is customary now. He 
writes : — " In all monasteries, whenever anyone belonging 
to it died, the death knell was rung, as is customary now, 
and though it were the depth of night, no sooner heard 
they that well-known bell swinging forth slowly and 
sadly its mournful sound, than all the inmates of thai 
house rose and knelt down by their bedsides, or hurried to- 
the church, and prayed for the soul of the brother or sister 
that moment gone. 

If what is understood by the "passing bell" (N.B.„ 
" passing," not " passed ") was rung anywhere, it would 

1 l: The Church of our Fathers," vol. ii., p. 27. 


surely be rung in a monastic house. But Dr. Eock's silence 
with respect to it seems to indicate that the custom was 
not in use at the time to which he refers. 

A good deal of stress used to be laid by the authorities upon 
the due performance of the custom which we are consider- 
ing. Thus we find in the Chichester Articles of Inquiry, 
a.d. 1638, under the heading, " Visitation of the sicke and 
persons at the point of death " : — " In the meantime is there 
a passing bell tolled that they who are within hearing of it 
may be moved in their private devotions to recommend the 
state of the departing soule into the hands of their 
Redeemer, a duty which all Christians are bound to out of 
a fellow-feeling of our common mortality." 

In olden days the passing bell was sometimes called the 
" soul bell," of which term Bishop Hall says : — " We call 
them ' soul bells,' because they signify the departure of the 
soul, not because they help the passage of the soul." 

Judging from what Bourne says in his Antiqitates 
Vulgares, it appears that in the Puritan days the tolling of 
the passing bell was regarded as superstitious, and was con- 
sequently given up. The dates in the following extract 
should be carefully noted. Everybody knows that King 
Charles I. was beheaded in 1649, and that until 1660, when 
the Restoration took place, the Puritans reigned supreme. 

In a vestry book belonging to the Chapel of All Saints in 
Newcastle-on-Tyne, it is observable that the tolling of the 
bell is not mentioned in the parish accounts during the 
earlier portion of this interval. However, at a vestry 
holden January 21, 1655, there was made the following 
order : — 

" Whereas, for some years past, the collecting of the duty 
of bell and tolling hath been foreborne and laid aside, 
which hath much lessened the revenue of the church, by 
which and such-like means it is brought into dilapidation, 


and having now taken the same into serious consideration, 
and fully debated the objections made by some against the 
same, and having had the judgment of our ministers con- 
cerning any superstition that might be in it, which being 
clear, it is this day ordered that from henceforth the 
church officer appointed thereunto do collect the same, and 
bring the money unto the churchwardens, and that those 
who desire to have the use of the bells may freely have 
them as formerly, paying the accustomed fees." 

Bourne seems to have had a very distinct idea as to the 
elasticity of the Puritan conscience, for he humorously 
adds : — « Ifc is certain they laid it aside because they 
thought it superstitious, and it is probable if they had not 
wanted money they had not seen the contrary." 

It is as well to notify what these fees were in amount. 
Strutt in his " Manners and Customs " quotes from the 
parish books of Wolchurch thus : — 

" The clerke to have for tollynge of the passynge belle 
for manne, womanne, or childes, if it be in the day four- 
pence, if it be in the night, eightpence for the same." 

It seems to have been the general custom to arrange the 
tolling at the funeral in such wise as to indicate to all 
within hearing whether the deceased were man, woman, or 
child, the strokes of the hammer being in threes in honour 
of the Blessed Trinity. These strokes were called " Tellers." 
Thus three tellers denoted the burial of a child, six that of 
a woman, and nine that of a man. Hence the common 
saying that " nine tailors (tellers) made a man." 

The next point to deal with is the garb which of yore 
was commonly used at funerals. 

At Ballintoy, county Antrim, it was, and I believe still is, 


customary for the people to wear white linen scarves, or in 
case of poverty white calico. These are gathered into a 
shoulder knot, and worn diagonally across the breast. 
This custom was observed by rich and poor alike, and 
both at men's and women's funerals. The clergyman who 
always received one of these scarves was wont to hang it 
over the side of the reading desk. 

The late Rev. Robert Howard told me that in Stafford- 
shire, Derbyshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 
each of which localities he had held parochial charges, it 
was, and perhaps still is, the custom for the friends of the 
deceased to provide a broad black silk scarf with a shoulder 
knot to be worn by the officiating clergyman across the 
surplice at a funeral, and also on the Sunday following, 
when the mourners were always present at divine service. 
These scarves were regarded as the perquisites of the 
priest's wife, who stored them up till there was enough 
material to make a silk dress or mantle. I myself re- 
member that the same custom prevailed in Warwickshire 
in my young days, but it was, of course, confined to those 
persons who were well off. 

A custom akin to this has been reported to me by a lady 
at Ventnor as being usual at Bradford-on-Avon. The 
Sunday after a funeral the vicars' and clerks' hats, with im- 
posing hat bands, were hung on two nails on the desk 
which in past days formed one side of the vicarage square 
baize-lined pew. 

At Ashbourne, Derbyshire, it was, and perhaps still is, 
the custom, in case of funerals from the workhouse, for the 
poor folk who are inmates, and who attend the funeral as 
bearers, to appear habited in long black cloaks. 

Black and white " frocks " were formerly worn at Arundel 
by men of the poorer class when they went to a funeral. Of 
late years, however, these have been gradually going out of 
use. The last funeral at which all the bearers wore white 


frocks took place some twenty or more years ago. Black 
frocks are still, I believe, occasionally worn there as mourn- 
ing, and are to be seen in church now and then. Fifty 
years ago frocks were worn by all, old and young ; white 
in summer, and brown or slate coloured in winter. The 
parish clerk appeared in his desk vested like the rest of the 
poorer members of the congregation, in a white or slate 
coloured frock. 

My late housekeeper, who was brought up near Alton, 
Hants, told me that in her younger days what were locally 
called " round frocks," which I remember went under the 
name of " smock frocks " in the midland counties, were 
always -worn at labourers' funerals. Her husband added 
that in the same locality, on the anniversary of the village 
club, all the members were bound to wear the round frock 
till after dinner under a penalty of five shillings ; the fine 
going, of course, to the club funds. 

In Cornwall, I understand, it used to be the custom at 
children's funerals for little girls, dressed in light colours, 
to carry one of their own sex and age to the grave. 

And as to the construction of graves, I can hear of 
nothing peculiar save in the south-western part of England. 
The vicar of St. Cuthbert's (Wells) has told me that it was 
formerly the custom there to plaster the inside of the grave 
when the deceased was a plasterer by trade. Some forty 
or more years ago the churchyard was closed by order of 
council, and an attempt was made to continue the old usage 
in the cemetery. One such case is known to have occurred 
among the earlier interments there, but the practice was 
stopped, I believe, by the Burial Board. 

When I was assistant curate at St. Mary Church, near 
Torquay, some forty years ago, the graves there were 
always most carefully made, and were all lined with white 
plaster. This must have been an ancient custom, fpr I 


remember that when an old grave in the somewhat crowded 
churchyard happened to be broken into by the sexton's 
spade, the white line of plaster was distinctly visible. In 
my time the soil was scrupulously removed from the edge 
of the grave, and the ground made quite flat and smooth. 
About six inches or so of the surface round the excavation, 
which was always cut very clean, fine black ashes were 
spread as a sort of border, and very neat and nice it looked. 
I do not know if the old custom is still retained. 

As regards the treatment of brick graves in South Devon, 
the custom has been to whitewash the bricks in the lower 
part, and to colour the upper part black. 

Some twelve months ago a maiden lady friend of mine, 
who was much beloved by all who knew her, was buried 
in the cemetery at Teignmouth. She lay in her coffin with 
a chaplet of eucharis and lilies of the valley on her brow, 
and the sides of the grave were lined with moss. 

We may now go on to inquire how the body was con- 
veyed to the grave, and the ceremonies which accompanied 
the removal. Some of these usages are still kept up. 

The Nottinghamshire Advertiser of March 20, 1877, 
describing a village funeral, states : — " The coffin was borne 
by napkins, which we may observe is an old Nottingham- 
shire custom." 

In Lincolnshire, as I am informed, the same practice is, 
or has been, followed, as also in Devon and Cornwall. I 
myself remember that, in my younger days, napkins were 
always so used in Warwickshire. Within the last few years 
I have myself had them used at the funeral of a relative 
which I personally conducted. In this instance long pieces 
of strong linen towelling were employed. These were 
passed through the handles, and underneath the coffin. 
The bearers wrapped the ends round the fore-arm, and 
were thus able to carry a great weight with comparative 


ease. On this occasion it was necessary to have a leaden 

It is much to be wished that this underhand method of 
carrying coffins were universal, instead of the unsightly 
and dangerous practice of having them raised on men's 
shoulders as is common in London and other places. A 
great deal of inconvenience and risk of accident would be 
saved thereby. What can be more unseemly than to wit- 
ness half a dozen men staggering under a heavy coffin in 
their endeavour to place it upon the tressles in the nave of 
the church ? Who has not felt on such an occasion an in- 
ward fear lest the coffin should fall ? Polished tiles form 
but a very insecure foothold for the bearers, especially in a- 
country place where nailed boots are generally worn, and 
the men are apt to be awkward. 

Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite, F.S.A., tells me that the use of 
towels at funerals was customary at Hopton in the parish 
of Mirfield, Yorkshire, till about half a century ago. Nap- 
kins used to be kept at the Hall for that purpose, and were 
lent to the neighbours when required. The old parish 
church is about two miles from the village, and down a 
very steep hill. His aunt, the last of the family who lived 
at the Hall, stated that the custom of. lending the napkins 
had ceased because once, when they were worn out, she pro- 
vided new ones of cotton, and the people would not use 
them, linen being " the proper thing." 

Besides these " bearers," as they were called, other things 
needful for funerals and weddings were kept at the Hall 
for public use, including two silver cups, one of which — a 
quart tankard — my friend has in his possession. The last 
time it was lent the lady above mentioned found a child 
dragging it full of pebbles across the " fowd," and then, she 
said, it was time to stop lending. The tankard bears the 
sign of rough usage, of course, but it will still hold liquor 
up to within half an inch of the top. 


Here is a rather curious development of the above usage. 

A friend wrote to me in 1871 to say that at Redcar in 
Cleveland, in the earlier part of this century, a funeral was 
preceded by a public breakfast. Then the coffin was 
carried slung upon towels knotted together, and borne by re- 
lays of men to Maroke, up the old "Corpse- way," and bumped 
upon a heap of stones three times. This was an ancient 
resting-place at the top of the hill. The " Lamentation of 
a Sinner " was then sung, and the procession moved to the 
churchyard, every man, woman, and child receiving a dole 
of sixpence as they entered. 

The " Lamentation of a Sinner '' may be found printed at 
the end of the Metrical Psalms in most old Prayer Books. 
The first stanza is : — 

" O Lord, turn not Thy face away 
From him that lies prostrate ; 
Lamenting sore his sinful life, 
Before Thy mercy's gate." 

And the last : — 

" Mercy, good Lord, mercy I ask, 
This is the total sum ; 
For mercy, Lord, is all my suit, 
O let Thy mercy come." 

At Broadwas in Worcestershire it was usual for the 
bearers, on reaching the church walk, to set down the 
coffin, and as they stood around to bow to it. 1 

A curious Wesleyan usage is worth recording. The Rev. 
Hastings P. Elwin states that a Wesleyan in Yorkshire 
gave him an account of the ceremony ordinarily observed 
up to about thirty years ago on the evening before a 
burial. All the friends who were to be present at the 
funeral assembled at the house, and after the customary 
eating and drinking adjourned to the room where the body 

1 Notes and Queries, September 3, 1853. 


lay, having a great candle burning beside it, and they 
grouped around it and sung a hymn. 

Hymn singing was not at all uncommon in funeral pro- 
cessions. Thus at Tudhoe, Durham, so late as 1867 hymns 
were sung by the mourners on their way from the house 
through the village, and the Eev. J. Eddowes, who was 
Vicar of Gar ton-in- the- Wolds, from 1852-1859, says that 
at that time the custom of singing in processions was ob- 
served there. At Highclere, I am told, the parish clerk 
used to sing the 90th psalm before the corpse on its way to 
the grave. 

Here I may refer to a communication of Dr. Barber of 
Ulverstone. He says that in the Furness district of North 
Lancashire the practice of singing hymns at funerals on 
the way to church is still kept up. Another custom is to 
give each individual a small cake made of the purest 
wheaten flour — oatcake being in general use — called arval 
bread, which he or she is expected to carry home and eat 
with the rest of the family. The derivation of this word 
" arval " seems somewhat doubtful. Nick Bailey in his 
quaint dictionary gives arval or arvil as " a funeral 
solemnity,'' and '' arvil supper " as a feast given at funerals. 
He marks it as an old country word. Worcester spells it 
" arvel," and derives it from the Welsh. A large number 
of persons were usually " bidden " to these funerals, and it 
was considered a great slight if each family did not send at 
least one representative. In some parts, where the parish 
church was at a considerable distance, the body was carried 
on a bier, and there were stones set at intervals along the 
roadside to place it on while the bearers were changing 
sides. These were called " resting stones." In these 
districts it was common to distribute the " arval bread " 
before starting, and each person received a cake and a 
quarter. The quarter was generally eaten during a halt 
about halfway to the church. 


As to these burial repasts the Rev. R. Bramley of Kirk- 
dale, Yorkshire, has told me that the cake, which in his 
neighbourhood is handed round at the feast beforehand, is 
always arranged in a peculiar manner. Should a deceased 
woman have had a child in her unmarried state the cere- 
mony, i.s omitted, and he adds :— " I think that I am correct 
in saying that the bell is not rung the usual number of 
times indicating the sex of the departed. . . . Where I was 
curats in Cheshire I found an almost invariable accompani- 
ment to the funeral banquet was a kind of thick milk 
pudding flavoured with cinnamon." 

The Rev. G. F. Weston of Crosby Ravensworth, West- 
moreland, tells me that in his parish, on the occasion of a 
funeral, very large numbers of friends and neighbours are 
invited by messengers sent on what are called " bidding 
rounds." One or two persons are invited from each house. 
They are bidden for about 10 o'clock a.m. to the house of 
the deceased, the hour of "lifting the corpse" is also 
named, as well as the entertainment provided for visitors. 
In the case of well-to-do families there is generally dinner 
prepared at one or both of the village inns. Sometimes as 
many as eighty or a hundred will have dinner at each. In 
the case of poorer families refreshment is provided at the 
house, generally in the shape of a substantial tea. 

At the "lifting of the corpse" the people assemble in 
front of the house, and the coffin is deposited on a couple 
of chairs, and a hymn is sung. Before entering the church- 
yard the coffin is rested and another hymn is sung. During 
the service is sung another hymn. After ' the service is 
over at the grave a dole of sixpence is given to each poor 
person present. 

As regards the custom of " bidding rounds," the Rev. 
H. T. Ellacombe states 1 that at Penrith the town crier 
gives notice of funerals thus, after ringing his bell — " I am 
1 Notes and Queries, April 28, 1855. 


to give notice to all friends and neighbours that are in- 
clined to attend the funeral of of Street, to 

attend at o'clock." 1 

In connection with this part of our subject, the Rev 
Mackenzie Walcot tells us that he has twice seen the bell- 
man precede the funeral of undergraduates at Oxford, once 
to a college chapel, and once to St. Mary's Church. 2 

1 In Paris it is the custom for the gentlefolks to send out 
"bidding letters" on the occasion of a funeral in the form given 
below. They are printed on quarto paper, with a black border exactly 
three quarters of an inch wide. The two which I reproduce were 
given to me by a friend the last time I was in Paris, and are both of 
quite recent date. The former was issued by a Roman Catholic 
family ; the latter by a family of Protestants. For obvious reasons the 
surnames and addresses are suppressed. 


Le Vicomte db , Monsieur Henri ; 

Le Vicomte de , le Comte et la Comtesse de ; 

Le Baron et la Baronne de , Monsieur O. , 

Oapitaine le Marquis et la Marquise d' -, 

Monsieur db Capitaine d'Etat-Major , et la 

Comtesse ; 

Mademoiselle Alice de , Monsieur Raoul , 

Mademoiselle Elisabeth , Monsieur Charles , 

MesdSmoiselles Marie, Jeanne et Pauline ; 

Monsieur Ariste , Monsieur Anatole , 

Madame ; 

Messieurs Paul, Rene et Gaston ; 

Le Marquis et le Comte de , le Comte et le Vicomte 

, Monsieur de , Lieutenant de Dragons, et la 

Baronne le General Baron ; 

Ont l'honneur de vous faire part de la perte douloureuse qu'ils 
viennent d'eprouver en la personne de 

Madame la Vicomtesse de ■ 


leur epouse, mere, fille, belle-fille, sceur, belle-soeur, tante, niece ct 

cousine, d&e'de'e, munio des Sacraments de 1'Eglise, le 

188 , en son domicile, rue • , n" — , a Page de 39 ans. 


2 Notes and Queries, Oct. 20, 1855. 


To South country people the term "lifting" the corpse 
may seem strange. It may be well to remind those readers 
who are wont from time to time to send materials to be 
dyed at Messrs. Pullars' works at Perth, that the label 
which the firm sends round to its clients is printed in the 
following form. This shows that the word " lift," as used 
in the North, is equivalent to " called for,'' " taken up," or 
" collected," in South country language : — 


To Messrs. J. PULLAR & SONS, 

(Head Office) 

Lifted at . . . o'clock on . . . day of . . . 188 ." 
It will be seen that I copy a recent label. 


Vous etes prid d'assister aux Convoi et Service de 

Monsieur Alexandre Johan Henry de , 

ancien Ministre Plenipotentiaire, 

Grand Officer de la Legion d'honneur et de plusieurs Ordres 


de^de subitement, le , a lage de 71 ans ; 

Qui se ferontle Dimanche 6 du courant, a 3 heures tres-precises, 
au Temple du St. Esprit (rue Roquepine, 5) 

On se r^unira a la maison mortuaire : 

— , rue de . 

"Jesus lui dit : Je suis la resurrection 
en la vie. Celui qui croit en moi vivra, 
quand meme il serait mort." 

St. Jean. Ch. xi., v. 25. 

De la part de Messieurs Jules, Louis et Henri , ses 

fils, Monsieur Henri , son gendre, et de tout la famille. 

L'Inhumation aura lieu a (Seine en Oise). 


I am told that in Scotland the neighbours are invited to 
ordinary burials by a man who goes about with a bell, and 
at certain stations announces the death of the person with 
the name and his late place of abode The bell is also 
tinkled before the funeral procession. 

Some of my readers may not be aware of the derivation 
of the word " funeral." The term is a thoroughly ancient 
one, dating from heathen times. Pellicia in his " Polity of 
the Christian Church" 1 tells us that among the Romans 
the custom of carrying lighted torches at a funeral was so 
very ancient that the word funus, "funeral," was itself 
derived from the funales, a species of torch which was in 
those old days carried in the funeral processions. Artificial 
lights were necessary, as these ceremonies always took 
place at night. 

But Pellicia with all his erudition — perhaps because 
of it- — does not go to the root of the matter, and explain 
that the torches which were used at these functions in the 
dark, were pieces of rope dipped in tar. It is, therefore, 
from the Latin word, funis (a rope), that the word 
" funeral " is derived. 

There is a curious idea lingering in some places that, 
when the death of a person is imminent, the fastening of 
the doors of the room or house hinders painfully the de- 
parture of the soul from the body. A few instances of this 
may be worth noting. 

A gentleman, writing forty years ago, stated that, when 
he was a curate in Exeter, he called upon a parishioner who 
was on his deathbed. The wife told him that she thought 
her husband would have died during the previous night, 
and that, consequently, she had unfastened every lock in 
the house. 2 

In a letter to Notes and Queries, March 30, 1850, C. B. 

1 Bellett's translation, p. 558. 

a Notes and Queries, March 16, 1850. 


says that in West Gloucestershire the people are accustomed 
to throw open the windows at the moment of death. 

Readers of the " Waverley Novels" will perhaps remember 
that Sir Walter Scott, in " Guy Mannering," remarks that it 
was held as certain, by the old people of Scotland, that the 
protracted struggle between life and death was painfully 
prolonged by keeping shut the door of the room in which 
the dying person lay. 1 

The idea which we are considering prevails, or did for- 
merly prevail, in the north as well as in the west and south- 
west of England. In partial connection with this custom, 
it is interesting to note that the Jews at Gibraltar, on a 
death occurring at any house, pour away all the water con- 
tained therein on the supposition that the Angel of Death 
may have washed his sword in it. 2 

I have heard that, on the occasion of a death of a member 
of a certain Jewish family in London some time back, all 
the water in the house was run off. This may be a common 
custom among the Jews here in England, but I have no 
means of verifying it. 

Here is a curious custom connected with death which, 
although I am writing about English usages, may perhaps 
be worth mentioning. When a child is dying, the people in 
some parts of Holland are accustomed to shade it by the 
curtains from the parents' gaze, the soul being supposed to 
linger in the body so long as a compassionate eye was fixed 
upon it. 3 Thus, in Germany, he who sheds a tear in lean- 
ing over an expiring friend, and does not wipe it off, en- 
hances, they consider, the difficulties of death's last struggle. 
I believe that the same notion is introduced in the once 
popular story, " Mary Barton : a Tale of Manchester Life." 

In connection with this part of my subject, I may remark 

1 Chapter xxvii., and note. 

2 Notes and Queries, May 18, 1850. 
*Ibid., Oct. 26, 1850. 


that not a few medical men of wide experience entertain a 
strong conviction that the departure of the soul from the 
body is a much more protracted operation than is commonly 
supposed ; and some, I know, are of opinion that the mental 
faculties of the patient, under ordinary circumstances, be- 
come keener as the end approaches. It is quite possible 
that this may be the case, and such possibility should 
always be remembered by those who are in attendance upon 
the dying, so that silence may be maintained for some few 
minutes at least, and outward expressions of sorrow kept in 
check, even when the spirit has apparently taken flight. 
Of course I do not mean by this that any prayers that are 
being said at the moment of the seeming departure should 
cease — far from it. The very fact of the devotions being 
continued may, for all we know, be of unspeakable comfort 
to the departing soul. 

There is a curious notion in some parts of the country 
that a funeral procession must necessarily go " the way of 
the sun." This, of course, is a remnant of Baal worship, 
about which I shall speak when dealing later on with 
heathen survivals. A gentleman, writing from Worksop, 
tells us that in his neighbourhood it is considered very bad 
luck if, when a body is taken to be buried, the funeral 
procession goes to the churchyard by the way which will 
make the party meet the sun in its course. They call this 
" going the back way," and there are people who would do 
almost anything at a funeral rather than not follow the 
sun. In his "Folklore of the Northern Counties," Mr. 
Henderson mentions this custom. 1 

Let us now inquire as to the question of burial fees. I 
have met with one or two curious facts in relation to them. 

A paragraph in the Chester Courant of September 26th, 
1863, refers to a custom which is probably peculiar to some 
parts of Wales. An old man was charged at the Denbio-h 

1 P. 61. 


Police Court with having stolen three shillings from the 
•communion table of the Parish Church, such money being 
the offertory made at the burial of a deceased parishioner. 
He confessed the theft, and was sentenced to three months' 

Mr. Alex. D. H. Leadham, F.S.A., of Boroughbridge, has 
written to me to say that some five and twenty years ago 
he was on a visit to the then curate of a parish near St. 
Asaph, North Wales. One day there was a funeral there 
which he attended. The service, wholly in Welsh, pro- 
ceeded to the end of the lesson in the ordinary way. Then 
the minister left the reading-desk, and instead of proceed- 
ing to the grave, walked up to the altar, and read there the 
two prayers which succeed the Lord's Prayer in the burial 
■office, and then he opened a box fixed to the altar- rail. 
Each mourner present left his seat, walked to the box, and 
deposited in it some coin according to his means. The 
remainder of the service was carried on at the grave side. 
The curate told my informant that this custom of offering 
money was very ancient in that church, and was supposed 
to be a relic of the Roman doctrine of Purgatory. There 
are no other burial fees in this parish save gratuities to 
the clerk and sexton. After the service was over the men 
mourners were each provided with a shovel, filled up the 
grave, replaced the stone, and then joined the female 
mourners, who had stood on one side while the grave was 
being closed. 

In many parishes in Wales, the clergyman receives no 
burial fees, and the persons present lay their voluntary 
offerings on the altar. As these have been regularly 
•entered in the Parish Registers they form some guide as 
to the esteem in which the several persons buried were held 
by their neighbours. For instance, no less than 19s. 6d. 
was contributed at the funeral of Mrs. Mary Hughes, who 
•died at Aber in 1741 ; and the rector there has stated that 


he once counted 85 sixpenny pieces on such an occasion. 
On the other hand, one Martha Jones, of the same place, 
was probably not popular with her neighbours, for a soli- 
tary penny was all that the parson received for his. 
services. 1 

The burial offerings, however, were not always the per- 
quisites of the clergyman, for in some places they used to 
go, in case of poverty, to the family of the deceased. At- 
tendance at a Welsh funeral is voluntary, and not by 
invitation only. Everybody is supposed to put something 
in the plate, and thus a nice little sum is sometimes 
handed to the survivors. 2 

In his "Ecclesiastical Law," the late Sir Robert Philli- 
more states that in early times all fees for burial were for- 
bidden as simoniacal. Then free offerings came to be made,, 
and in the last stage custom introduced a regular fee. 3 

At the beginning of the century it was the custom in 
some parishes in Wales for the sexton to collect the offer- 
ings on his spade at the grave side. 

It is only now and then that we hear of gifts to the poor- 
being distributed on the occasion of a funeral. One or two> 
instances may be cited. 

The Leeds Mercury gave the following account of what 
took place at the funeral of Ladj^ William Gordon, October 
10, 1841 : — " Her ladyship, with her accustomed liberality, 
had by her will directed that her executors should distri- 
bute to the poor at Temple Newsam and the neighbourhood 
the sum of a thousand pounds upon the occasion of her 
interment. This was done as soon as the ceremonial was. 
completed and the family had retired. A committee, con- 
sisting of the Rev. A. Martineau, Vicar of Whitkirk, Mr. 
Leather, Messrs. Clarke, and several of the principal in- 

1 Notes and Queries, April 9, 1804. 
- Ibid., May 7, 1864. 
1 Vol. i., p. 840. 


habitants, had previously met on several occasions to con- 
sider the mode of distributing the fund so as to insure its 
falling among those who were most needy and deserving. 
It was divided into sums varying from £1 to £10, according 
to the family, respectable conduct, and other circumstances 
of the object contemplated, the whole being distributed in 

I do not know that there is any very striking liberality 
in giving away money after one is dead and cannot 
use it oneself ; but it is at least better than having it 
buried with one, as has been done. Thus, about the middle 
of last century, an old grave was opened at Wilmington, 
near Dartford, and a number of coins of Henry IV.'s reign 
were discovered within. 1 

The following account of a lady's charitable bequest I 
like better than the one given above. Mrs. Mary Harries, 
nee Lysons, widow, left a sum of money to the parish of 
Hemsted, Gloucester, to apprentice boys, and to provide 
a certain number of poor women with cloaks. She further 
stipulated that on the anniversary of her death (June 27), 
there should be full morning service with sermon and Holy 
Communion. The rector tells me that a guinea is paid from 
the " Harries charity " to the officiating clergyman for this 
duty, and also a fee to the clerk. 

A bequest of quite a different type is recorded in Tit-Bits 
of April 28, 1888. It appears that Mr. Thomas Tuke, of 
Wath, near Rotherham, dying in 1810, bequeathed a penny 
to every child who should be present at his funeral. As a 
result the churchyard walks were literally lined with 
children to the number of 600 or 700, and their pennies 
were duly distributed to them there. 

He also bequeathed a shilling to every poor woman in 
Wath, whilst to his own daughter he only bequeathed the 
miserable pittance of four guineas per annum. To an old 
1 Gentleman's Magazine (1747), p. 265. 


woman who had nursed him and attended to his every want 
for eleven years, he bequeathed the not very munificent sum 
of one guinea, for, as the will expressed it, " tucking me up 
in bed." 

He also ordered forty dozen penny buns to be thrown 
from the church tower at noon on Christmas-day for ever, 
leaving a sum of money for the purpose. For some years 
the buns were distributed in accordance with the will ; but 
eventually, owing to the conduct of the crowd which an- 
nually assembled, only six dozen were thrown from the 
tower, the remainder being quietly given away below. 

There are some very curious ideas lingering in certain 
localities as to the times when deaths occur, and how they 
affect the future. Thus, for example, at Stanway in 
Gloucestershire it is believed that if a burial occurs on 
New Year's Day it will be followed by one in each month 
of the year. The population of the parish is under three 
hundred, and the usual average of deaths is six a year. 

The Rev. Francis R. Traill, who sends me the above 
information, adds, that if a corpse lies unburied over a 
Sunday, the people feel sure that there will be another 
death in the parish within a month. In the northern 
counties a similar notion prevails amongst some of the 
country people. Their idea is, that if a funeral takes place 
on a Sunday, especially if on that day the grave should 
have been opened, three persons will be interred within a 
very short space of time. 

This, perhaps, will be as good a place as any for record- 
ing a very remarkable custom which prevailed up to the 
seventeenth century. There was in one of the villages 
adjoining the Welsh border, an old man called the " Sin 
Eater," and his office was, for a trifling consideration, to 
pawn his own soul for the ease and rest of the soul de- 
parted. When a person died, notice was given to him, and 
he at once went to the house of the deceased. A cricket, 


i.e. a stool, was brought, and he sat down in front of the 
door. A groat, a crust of bread, and a full bowl of ale, 
were given to him, after which he rose and pronounced the 
ease and rest of the soul departed, for which he would 
pawn his own soul. It was believed that this ceremony- 
would free the departed soul from " walking " thenceforth. 
It is probable that this strange custom was originally con- 
nected in some way with the ceremony of the Scape Goat 
under the Law (Lev. xvi., 21). I believe that the institu- 
tion of the Sin Eater was, in later times, mainly confined to 
the county of Hereford, but there is reason to believe that 
it once prevailed generally in Wales. 

In olden time, very queer things were sometimes put in 
graves. Thus I find that in digging the grave of one Mr. 
William Clements, in Nockhold Churchyard, in Kent, there 
were found, deep in the earth, several rolls of brimstone. 
What this could mean I am not able to guess, but there is, 
at least, a very disagreeable suggestiveness about it. 
Equally difficult of explanation were the objects which 
were discovered in 1727, in the grave of a reputed hermit 
near Hatfield in Yorkshire. These were, a peck of hemp- 
seed and a piece of beaten copper. In the early part of 
this century, the church of Old Swinford in Worcester- 
shire had to be removed, which involved the disturbance 
of certain of the coffins in the churchyard. In one of these 
the body of a lady was found, fully dressed in ancient 
costume, and an enormous number of pins were in her 
dress and lying strewed about. 1 

I have found the following item in so many antiquarian 
records, that I fancy it must be pretty generally known to 
those who are interested in such matters. About the 
middle of the last century, when the churchyard at. 
Clerkenwell had to be disturbed, a coffin was discovered, in 
1 Gentleman's Magazine (1834), p. 592. 


which was found an hour-glass. The meaning of this is 
obvious enough. It was supposed, at the time of its dis- 
interment, that the coffin had not been in tbe ground more 
than a hundred years. The first notice of this that I have 
met with is in the Gentleman's Magazine} 

Dr. Doran, in his book, " Saints and Sinners," 2 tells us 
that the famous medical knight, Sir William Brown, who 
died in Queen Square, Westminster, had, in accordance 
with the provision of bis will, his pocket Elzevir " Horace " 
placed in his coffin and buried with him, as having been 
" the pleasant and useful companion of my way and life." 

Here is a curious example of what we are considering. 
Not so many years ago, on the occasion of a child's funeral 
in Hertfordshire, a Bible, a key, and a glass were placed 
within the coffin. 3 

I may, perhaps, be excused for mentioning a personal 
experience akin to this. When assistant curate at St. 
Mary Magdalene's, Munster Square, I attended, ministerially, 
a poor young girl during her last illness. In view of her 
death, she asked her mother to put into her coffin some of 
the trities to which she was attached, such as her work- 
box, etc. One of the things was my photograph, which she 
had once begged of me. When I gave it to the child I 
certainly had no idea that I was destined to be buried 
prematurely. It is more than thirty years since this 

While writing the above paragraph, I happened to 
mention its contents to my housekeeper, who entered the 
room, and she at once said that she remembered a man 
who used to get his living in the neighbourhood of Alton, 
Hants, by playing the fiddle at village frolics. When 
death approached, he made a request that his violin might 

1 1746, p. 640. 

2 Vol. i., p. 261. 

3 _ Notes and Queries, Oct. 13, 1877. 


be buried with him, which was, I believe, done. There is a 
romantic story in the early part of Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft's 
memoirs, in which an early admirer of the lady had asked 
lier for a broken necklace of imitation pearls, which she 
had worn when he first saw her on the stage, and which, at 
his request, was put in his coffin. 

Everybody knows, that according to the rule of the 
English Church, children who die unbaptised, are disquali- 
fied for ordinary Christian burial. The late Canon Humble 
has left on record his experiences as to how such burials 
were managed in his early days. He says : — " When I was 
curate at Newburn in Northumberland the custom was to 
bring the coffin of an unbaptised babe with that of a full- 
grown person. The child's coffin was always laid on the 
other coffin towards the i'eet, and so rested while the 
service was being said. There was generally a receptacle 
for it in the grave towards the feet, made by widening the 
grave at that point." I imagine that this custom was a very 
general one. 

A rather curious usage has been reported to me by a 
lady, writing from Swansea. She says that at St. John's 
Priory Church, Brecknock, when a funeral took place on 
a Sunday the coffin was brought to church immediately be- 
fore the Second Lesson, the clergyman meeting it at the 
door, and reading the sentences as he returned up the 
church. It was then placed on a bier in front of the read- 
ing-desk until the end of the evening service, the lesson in 
the Burial Service being substituted for the appointed 
Second Lesson. I have been told that the same custom 
was in olden times followed in the church at Shoreham in 

Here is an odd request made by a dying woman. A lady 
at Clifton has been good enough to send me a copy of a 
memorandum on the fly-leaf of a funeral sermon preached 


on May 3, 1840, at Tidcombe, Wilts, by her father, the 
Rev. Robert Cole, at that time incumbent of the parish. 
The words ran thus : — " This sermon now is only of use 
in the event of an occasion similar to that upon which it 
was made. The occasion alluded to was this : — A request 
made to me by Mary Wheeler, a single woman, aged 70,, 
who was a native of Tidcombe, and a noted person for her 
devotedness to the Church, and to everything thereto per- 
taining. She desired to be dressed and put into her coffin, 
having on the same ' white robe ' that she was accustomed 
to wear in church all her life, and especially at Holy 

It is well-known that formerly there was a law in 
England which ordered that all persons should be buried in 
woollen. The Acts of Parliament, 30 Car. II. cap. 3, and 
32, cap. 1, relate to this. An infringement of this law en- 
tailed upon the offender a penalty of £5, and an affidavit 
was required in each case of burial to show that the law 
had been carried out. There is an item in the church- 
wardens' accounts in the parish of Prestwick, Manchester, 
in 1861, to this effect : — ■" Received a fine of James 
Crompton ffor buringe his son, and not bringinge an affi- 
davitte according to the Acte for burying in woollin. 
02. 10. 00." 1 In the churchwarden's accounts under date 
March 28, 1811, show an entry : — " Received a moiety of 
the penalty of Mr. Christie being buried in linen. £2. 
10. 0." 

The law was very unpopular, as is evident from Pope's 
lines in one of his " Moral Essays," 2 where he represents 
Nance Oldfield the actress, under the name of Narcissa, as 
saying : — 

1 Notes and Queries, June 5, 1852. 
" Essay i., line 240. 


" Odious, in woollen, 'twould a saint provoke, 
Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke. 
No, let a charming chintz or Brussels lace 
Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face. 
One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead, 
And, Betty, give this cheek a little red." 

The statute was repealed by 54 George III., c. 108. 

The law was sometimes evaded in an ingenious way, 
Mr. J. E. Bayley, of Stratford, near Manchester, has stated 
that during the time that the Act was in force, corpses 
were sometimes covered simply with hay or flowers, a noti- 
fication of which is sometimes found in parish registers. 
He adds: — "The materials are hereabouts called 'strew- 
ings.' I find in the register of an adjoining parish : — 
' Buryed in sweet flowers only.' " J 

In other cases it is said that the bodies were not wound 
or buried, saving only in sweet flowers and hay. Affidavits 
were made to that effect. 

There was a custom among fashionable people in the last 
century to have funerals at night and by torch-light. In 
the list of fees in the parish of St. John's, Westminster, we 
find that an extra charge of five shillings was prescribed 
for all interments taking place at night. It was then 
usual for the body to lie in state surrounded with wax 
candles. Mr. J. E. Smith, in his history of St. John the 
Evangelist, Westminster, tells us that torch-light funerals 
to which Pope refers in the lines — 

" When Hopkins dies, a thousand lights attend 
The wretch who living saved a candle's end," 

were continued at St. John's till late in the last century. 
As many as thirty men were employed to assist at one of 
these dismal pomps, and more than half a hundredweight 

1 Notes and Queries, August 19, 1876. 


of wax candles, which then cost three shillings a pound, 
were used in one procession. It was also considered a 
breach of decorum for any mourner to appear at a funeral 
without a sprig of rosemary. As to pauper funerals, the 
vestry ordered that a cloth pall, not velvet, should be used, 
and that it should bear upon it the words, " Buried at the 
expence of the parish." This stigma, says Mr. Smith, was 
removed in 1807. 

As regards the question of coffins, no doubt Mr. Seymour 
Haden has rendered a public service by introducing the 
use of quickly perishing wicker coffins, in place of heavy 
and costly wooden ones, which are long in going to decay. 
And this chiefly from sanitary considerations in view of 
our rapidly increasing population and our crowded grave- 
yards. But surely a simpler plan would be to go back to 
our old English fashion of burying our departed friends in 
a, winding-sheet as was formerly the custom, and, I may 
add, is still the custom when a burial takes place at sea. 
Certain items appear in the overseer's books of the parish 
of St. Margaret's, Westminster, relating to what must have 
been uncoffined burials. Thus : — 

" 1562. Item — for the chardge of a winding-sheete for 
a poure woman which died in Thambre [The Ambry], xiid. 

" Item — for bringing of straw from Mr. Worleyes for the 
deceased girle aforesaid, for making cleane of the house, 
for her winding-sheete, and burieing of her, xvd. 

" 1566. For a winding-sheete, and for the burial of a 
poure olde man dieing in the street, ijs. vid." 

In the " Table of Dutyes," in Shoreditch Church, dated 
Dec. 11th, 1664, the following items occur: — 

" For a buryall in ye new churchyard without a coffin, 
£00 00 08. 


" For a buryall in ye old churchyard without a coffin, 
sevenpence. ... CO 00 07. 

" For the grave making and attendance of the vicar and 
clerke on the enterment of a corps uncoffined, the church- 
wardens to pay the ordinary duteys (and no more) of this 

The Rev. J. Deans, Melbourne, Derbyshire, states that 
in the register books of his parish, which date back to 
1663, is an item to the effect that Ann Dolman was buried 
in a coffin, and that four others were also buried in coffins 
up to March 11th following, making five out of the whole 
seventeen buried in that year. The custom of using coffins 
for others than wealthy people appears to have begun 
about this time, but not to have made much progress, for, 
in 1698, there is only one burial in a coffin mentioned out 
of seventeen funerals, and none at all in 10 99 out of ten. 
From this time, however, the number of coffins increased, 
so that in 1714 there were only two burials without coffins 
out of thirteen interments. In 1718, the vicar, who had 
been very careful in keeping the registers, died. Of the 
last eight entries of burials by him, two were without 
coffins, the last being dated Sept. 21st, 1718. 

Persons of position were sometimes in those days buried 
like poorer folk. Thus in the case of the interment of Sir 
Robert and Lady Harding no exception appears to have 
been made. 1 

J. H. M. (presumably J. H. Markland) states that George 
P.salmanazer, the notorious literary forger, who died in 
1753, earnestly requested that his body should not be in- 
closed in any kind of coffin, but be decently laid in a shell 
without a lid or other covering. The writer also says that 
amongst the memorials of a distinguished West of England 
family the following occurs: — "April 30, 1701, died Sir 
1 Meliquanj, vol. i., p. 19. (July, 1860.) 


N L , at his house in H , and was buried in the 

outer chancel of the said church on the 3rd of May, at 12 of 
the clock at night, without a coffin, according to his own 
directions. He was then in his 88th year. " 1 

A passage in Dean Comber's "Companion to the Temple," 
bears by inference upon the custom of uncoffined burials. 
He was Dean of Durham in 1691 :— " The ancient Christians 
were wont to give a parting kiss of charity to the body 
just when it was about to be put into the grave, to declare 
their affection, and to evidence that he died in the unity 
and peace of the Church, for which still we say, ' Our dear 
brother or sister,' which pious custom is yet observed in the 
Greek Church, and also in the northern parts of England 
by the near relations, who usually come near and kiss the 
deceased before he be put in the grave.'' 

It is possible that some may not have noticed that the 
Burial Service in the Book of Common Prayer is worded 
on the apparent supposition that no coffin is employed. 
The word coffin is not used ; it is always " the corpse," or 
" the body." Thus : — " When they come to the grave, while 
the corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth," etc. ; 
upon which rubric Wheatley, whose well-known book 
appeared in 1710, comments thus : — " When the body is 
stripped of all but its grave clothes, and is just going to be 
put into the grave," etc. 2 And again, in a subsequent 
rubric it is enjoined that " earth shall be cast upon the 
body," not upon the coffin. 

At Easingwold in Yorkshire there is an old oaken shell 
which was formerly used for conveying the bodies of 
parishioners to the churchyard. The Rev. N. Jackson, 
vicar of the parish, has been good enough to send me a 
description of it, which, I understand, was published in The 
Reliquary, July, 1864. The shell is still preserved in the 

1 Notes and Queries, November 17, 1855. - Chapter xii. , sec. 5 


" The central length is 6 ft. 7 in. ; length of side from 
shoulder to head, 1 ft. 5 in. ; width at foot, 9 in. The lid 
was originally fixed to the shell by three iron hinges on 
the right hand side of the body, one at the foot, another at 
the shoulders, and a third midway between the other two. 
It is somewhat larger than the shell itself, having over- 
lapped the top about three quarters of an inch on the left 
side (where it seems to have had some fastenings which 
have been taken off) and at the head and foot. The lid is 
now split down the centre, the two parts being held to- 
gether by five rough iron bands, one near the head, another 
near the foot, and the remaining three at nearly equal dis- 
tances from them and from each other. The corners have 
also been protected in a similar manner. The sides are 9 
in. in height, and on both of them at 7 in. from the shoulder 
and 30 in. from the foot are iron rings about an inch and a 
half in diameter. All the iron seems to have been very 
rough, but is now so much rusted as to leave its original 
condition a matter of some doubt. The cofEn is of oak, 
very black with age, much decayed, and the wood exceed- 
ingly thin. It apparently stood on four legs, there being 
four circular holes in the bottom — one at the head, one at 
the foot, and two across the centre, and in the bottom one 
a very small part of the leg remains, it having probably 
been broken off, while the rest were knocked out.'' 

On the same authority I learn that no living person re- 
members the shell being used, but there is a tradition that 
the last time it was employed was for a vagrant found 
dead and corrupting by the road side. 

A public coffin was formerly kept for use at Youghal, 
County Cork. It was stored in a recessed aperture in one 
of the old town walls which inclose the cemetery. 1 

And while speaking of coffins provided for the use of 
poor folk, I may mention, in passing, that a Roman Catholic 
1 JReliquary, July, 1864. 


clergyman at a recent public meeting in Dublin stated that 
fifty or sixty years ago, if the poor Irish could not afford a 
coffin it was not uncommon for the family to place the 
corpse in front of the house, with a pewter plate on the 
breast to receive donations of passers-by. I took this item 
from a report of the meeting in some newspaper, but I re- 
gret to say that I neglected to append a reference at the 
time, and I quite forget the source of my information. 

A curious fact, bearing upon the part of our subject 
above dealt with, appears in the Journal of the Archce- 
logical Association? The Rev. J. T. Williams describes a 
number of old interments inside the church of Penmynydd, 
Anglesea. The bodies were close to the surface, with here 
and there a thin layer of lime over the body. There was 
no trace of a coffin, but with each body was a round white 
stone about the size of a moderate potato, and at the south 
end of the chancel arch was buried a heap of the same kind 
of stories. Mr. Williams suggests that this may refer to 
Eev. ii. 17, which runs thus: — "To him that overcometh 
will I give ... a white stone, and in the stone a new name 
written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth 

In olden days the bodies of deceased persons were some- 
times buried in an erect position. Thus in the north 
transept of Stanton Harcourt Church, Oxfordshire, is the 
burial-place of the Harcourt family. Tradition relates that 
Sir John Harcourt, who died in 1330, was buried here in a 
standing posture. In the pavement above is a circular 
stone in which is inlaid a shield of brass bearing the family 
arms. 2 

At the close of the last century one Job. Orton, an inn- 
keeper, left instructions that he should be buried in an 

1 Vol. xvi., p. 325. 

2 Notes and Queries, No. 194, 1853. 


erect posture, and it is said that his wishes were complied 
with. The man's motive was the hope that he would rise 
before his wife, who was interred in the ordinary fashion. 1 

Ben Jonson was so buried in Westminster Abbey, the 
supposition being that this was to avoid the large fee de- 
manded for a full-sized grave. For a long time it was sup- 
posed that the story was invented to account for the small- 
ness of the gravestone. The grave, however, was opened 
some fifty years ago, and the dramatist's remains were dis- 
covered in the attitude indicated by tradition. 2 

In the first canto of " The White Doe of Eylstone," 
Wordsworth refers to erect burials thus : — 

" Pass, pass, who will, yon chantry door, 
And through the chink in the fractured floor, 
Look down, and see a grisly sight, 
A vault where the bodies are buried upright ; 
There face to face, or hand to hand, 
The Claphams and Mauleverers stand." 

This relates to a tradition respecting the vault of the 
Claphams at the east end of the north aisle of Bolton Priory 

Akin to this, it may be noted that when Charlemagne's 
tomb at Aix-la-Chapelle was opened by the Emperor 
Frederic Barbarossa, in 1165, he is said to have found the 
body not reclining in his coffin, but seated on a throne as 
one alive, clothed in imperial robes, bearing his sceptre in 
his hand, and on his knees a copy of the Gospels. 

About the strangest kind of burial that I have come 
across in my researches is one chronicled in the register of 
Lymington Church, Hants, where the following appears 
under the year 1736 : — 

1 Notes and Queries, No. 194, 1853. 
2 Ibid., No. 110, 1853. 


"Samuel Baldwin, Esquire, sojourner in this parish, was 
immersed without the needles, sans ciremonie, May, 20." ] 

It seems that shortly before his death Mr. Baldwin in- 
timated his desire to be buried at sea, in order to disap- 
point the frequently expressed intention of his wife, that 
if she survived him she would, out of contempt for him, 
dance on his grave. There is a delicate vein of humorous 
irony conveyed in the husband's dying request, which, I 
should think, had rarely been equalled on such an occasion. 

Tradition says that Mr. Charles Byrne, the famous Irish 
giant, who died towards the close of the last century, 
urgently requested that he might be buried at sea in order 
to escape the hands of the surgeons. This, however, was 
not done, for his skeleton, measuring seven feet eight 
inches, is now in the Museum of the College of Surgeons. 
It is said that William Hunter purchased the body, giving 
£500 for it. 

The desire of some to be buried at sea rather than in the 
earth is not without examples in our own day. Thus I 
find that 2 : — 

" Miss Hewitt, head mistress of the Girls' High School at 
Napier, New Zealand, was recently taken out in a steamer 
several miles to sea and buried at night there. She had 
left this in her will as an alternative to cremation, fearing 
that there might be no means for the latter, and being 
averse to burial in the earth." 

There have been, and I believe still are, some odd ideas 
as to the position in the churchyard in which people like 
to be buried. The popular idea is well illustrated by what 
a lady tells me is the usage at Morchard Bishop in North 

1 "Hone's Table Book," col. 413. 

2 Tit-Bits, July 23, 1892. 


Devon. She says that there was, and perhaps is, a popular 
prejudice against burial on the north side of the church, 
■and that the graves of strangers are usually situated there. 

It has been suggested that the reason why the south 
side of the churchyard was preferred was — (1) because the 
churchyard cross was always placed there ; (2) because it 
was the sunny side ; and (3) because the south door was 
generally the principal entrance, and consequently the 
tombs were more in the sight of relatives and friends. 1 
This explanation must be taken just for what it is worth. 

More valuable, albeit more fanciful to most minds, is the 
opinion of that very able and thoughtful man, the late 
Rev. R. S. Hawker, vicar of Morwenston, Devonshire, who 
says, " The doctrine of regions was coeval with the death of 
•our Lord. The east was the realm of the oracles, the especial 
throne of God. The west was the domain of the people ; 
the Galilee of all nations was there. The south, the land of 
mid-day, was sacred to things heavenly and divine, The 
north was the devoted region of Satan and his hosts, the 
lair of demons and their haunts." In some of our ancient 
•churches, over against the font, and in the northern wall, 
there is a devil's door. It was thrown open at every 
baptism for the escape of the fiend, and at all other seasons 
carefully closed. Hence came the old dislike to sepulture 
at the north. 2 

Milton, in the sixth book of " Paradise Lost," appears to 
allude to the same idea as to the evil character of the 
northern aspect. Thus : — 

"At last 
Far in the horizon to the north appeared, 
From skirt to skirt, a fiery region stretched 
In battailous aspect, and nearer view- 
Bristled with upright beams innumerable 

1 Notes and Queries, August 17, 1850. 

2 Ibid., September 14, 1850. 


Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields 
Various, with boastful argument portray'd, 
And banded powers of Satan hasting on 
With furious expedition, for they ween'd 
That selfsame day, by fight, or by surprise, 
To win the mount of God." 

Everybody knows that graves are ordinarily dug facing 
in their length east and west. Exceptions, however, may 
be found. For example, Mr. James R Scott, F.S.A., states, 
that in some country churchyards, as at Cowden in Kent, 
and East and West Bergholt in Suffolk, there are graves 
that face north and south, and he suggests that they are 
those of suicides. 1 My friend, Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite, 
F.S.A., remarks that they are more probably the graves in 
which Dissenters have been buried. This, I think, is pro- 
bable enough, as Dissenters are commoner than suicides. 

But as regards the burial of suicides, until 1823 the- 
body of the self-murderer was directed to be buried in a. 
cross road, with a stake driven through his body. It is,, 
however, the way in which their graves were formerly 
treated that we have now more especially to consider. As 
to this point I may give a quotation from a curious letter 
from the Rev. Mr. Watkins to Dr. Lyttleton, formerly 
Bishop of Carlisle, which is given by a correspondent to- 
the Gentleman's Magazine. The letter is dated from 
Gethly, May 14, 1763, and the passage runs thus : — " We 
have here a custom to this day for every passenger to 
throw a stone over the grave of such wretches as are 
buried in the cross roads, with the following curse, ' Yn 
Garn y bo ti,' i.e. ' May such villains be buried under a 
heap of stones ; ' ' Garn ' in the British signifying ' a heap- 
of stones.' These heaps are very common, and are looked 
upon as the highest marks of infamy. The custom is very 
ancient. We read in 2 Samuel xviii. 17, ' And they took 
1 Notes and Queries, March 13, 1880. 


Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and 
laid a very great heap of stones upon him.' " 

Dr. Patrick's comment on this verse quotes Andricomius' 
description of the Holy Land, where he says that travellers 
as they went by this heap of stones were wont to throw a 
stone to add to the heap, in detestation of their rebellion. 

One of the most horrid curses among the Welsh to this 
day is " Yn Garn y bo ti." 1 

There are some very curious notes upon funerals 
as they were " conducted " in the sixteenth century, in 
Henry Machyn's diary, the original of which is in the 
British Museum. I have already quoted from this MS., 
and it seems right to account for the gaps in my extracts. 
The fact is that this MS. was one of the volumes which 
suffered in the fire which occurred years ago in the Cottonian 
Library at the Museum. Fortunately the edges only were 
burnt, and very little important matter was destroyed. 
The words or letters in brackets are conjectural insertions 
by Mr. John Gough Nichols, F.S.A., who superintended the 
reprint of the volume for the Camden Society in 1848. 
The period over which the diary ranges is from 1550 to 
1563, which of course includes part of Edward VI.'s reign, 
the whole of Mary's, and part of Elizabeth's. 

In Machyn's days the Lord Mayors of London seem to 
have been somewhat greater people than they are now, if 
one may judge from the pomp with which funerals of 
members of their family were conducted. Here is an ac- 
count of a funeral of a lady mayoress in 1550 : — 

" The xix day of November was bured my lady Jude, 
Ma[yress] of London, and wyffe of Sir Andrew Jude, Mayr 
of London, and burred in the parry che of Saint Ellen in 
Bysshope Gatt Stret, for he gayff mony gownes, and to the 
powre men and women ij c gownes of mantyll . . . and 
1 Gentleman's Magazine (1773), pp. 179, 180. 


the Clarkes of London had the berying of my lade, and 
then came . . . with ij harolds afore with iiij baners a- 
bowt her borne, and after my [Lord] May re and ys bredurne, 
and alle the stret, and the chyrche wher hangyd with blake, 
and with schoehyons of thir armes, and a gret dolle, and a 
gret [dinner]." 

As to the ceremonial at the funerals of people of " quality," 
there does not seem to have been any great difference be- 
tween the usage under Edward VI. and his elder sister 
Mary, when, upon her brother's death, she came to the 
throne. Machyn records the funeral of Bishop Gardiner 
in the following words : — 

" The xiiij of November be-gane the knyll for the most 
ryght reverent Father in God, my lord chaunseler of 
England, doctor Sthevyn Gardiner, byshope of Wynchastur, 
and of the prevy consell with Kyng Henry the viiith, and 
unto Quen Mare, Quen of England ; and with a hersee of 
iiij branchys, with gylt candyllstykes ; and ij whytt 
branchys, and iij dosen of stayffes-torchys, and all the 
qwyre hangyd with blake and armes, and a durge songe ; 
and the morow masse of requiem and doctur Why t, bysshope 
of Lynkolne dyd pryche at the sam masse ; and after all 
they whent to his plasse to diner.'' 

Take next the account of the burial of an ordinary 
London citizen in Machyn 's days ; this time during the 
reign of Elizabeth : — 

" The xxiv day of Aprell (1560) was bered at Sant Mary 
Mayd : Master Hansley, a grocer, and he had a dossen of 
skochyons of arms, and there was the masturs of the 
Compane of the Grocers, and prestes and clarkes synging, 
Master Juelle, the byshope of Salbere (Salisbury) dyd pryche 


and he gayff gownes unto pore men ; and there was at 

this berehyng all the masters of (the) hospitille with ther 
gren stayffes in ther handes." 

I find that at and after this period, when any member of 
one of the city companies died, it was the custom for a 
large number of his brethren to follow his body to the 

A few notes as to the ceremonies with which royal per- 
sonages and the nobility were buried in the last century 
may be interesting. We are told that the body of the 
Queen of George II. was buried at Westminster Abbey on 
the night of December 17, 1737. At the door of the 
church the body was met by the dean and prebendaries, 
with the masters, scholars, and choir belonging to the same, 
and the choir of the Chapel Royal attending in their proper 
habits, with wax tapers in their hands, and the dean and 
prebendaries in their copes. 1 

At the funeral of Frederick, Prince of Wales, at West- 
minster Abbey, April 13, 1751, the body was met at the 
church door by the dean and prebendaries, attended by the 
gentlemen of the choir and the King's scholars, who fell 
into the procession immediately after the officer of arms, 
with wax tapers in their hands, and properly habited, and 
began the proper burial service (no anthem being composed 
for the occasion). Two drums beat a dead march during 
the service. 2 

The use of copes, and of tapers carried in procession, 
presumably lighted, seems to have been general at grand 
funerals in the last century. These things would, I imagine, 
be regarded as an extreme " ritualistic " novelty now. 

At the funeral of George II. in the Abbey, the corpse, 
we are told, was received at the entrance of the church by 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, December, 1737. 

2 Ibid., (1755), p. 184. 


the dean and prebendaries in their copes, attended by the 
choir, all having wax tapers in their hands. 7 

The higher orders of the nobility seem to have had rather 
grand funerals in the earlier part of the last century. 
Here is an instance. 

When John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, was buried 
in January, 1736, the body was carried in an open chariot, 
the effigies in armour lying on the coffin, and two of his 
grace's officers of the bedchamber sitting at the head and 
feet, in close mourning, bareheaded. The procession was 
received at Westminster Abbey by the dean and chapter 
in their copes, and the whole choir in their surplices, sing- 
ing before the corpse. 2 

In the course of my investigations I have not come upon 
much matter bearing upon the use of funeral palls in olden 
times, save incidentally. That they were used is evident, but 
I am not in a position to say to what extent they were 
employed. I find, however, that in the middle of the last 
century the " Poer's Pall " at Weston Flavel in the diocese 
of Peterborough is spoken of as if it were an ordinary 
church ornament. 3 

There is one item in the ceremonial prescribed by the 
rubric in the Book of Common Prayer which has already 
been referred to on page 148, concerning which I think it 
well to say something. I mean the order for earth to be 
cast upon the body when the words, " Earth to earth, ashes 
to ashes," etc., are recited, after the corpse has been lowered 
into the grave. I learn that at Winwick in South Lanca- 
shire everyone who assists at the funeral, even quite little 
children, join in doing this, and the custom seems to be a 
thoroughly religious one, which should be preserved where 
it is practised. 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, November 17, 1760. 

2 Ibid., (1736), p. 54. 

3 Ibid., (1760), p. 380. 


And this is a suitable place for recording an excellent 
usage which the Rev. C. E. Bowden of Edinburgh notifies 
to me, and which I wish was everywhere followed in 
places south of the Tweed. He says, " that in Scotland it 
is the custom for the mourners to wait at the grave side 
until it is filled up. Then they and the grave-diggers raise 
their hats and leave." 

It has always struck me as more than a mistake for the 
relatives and friends of a deceased person to leave the filling 
up of the grave to mere hireling labourers, who, as likely 
as not, are surrounded by a lot of thoughtless and irreverent 
boys, and all sorts of abominations may go on. Some 
friend of the family at least ought to stop by the grave 
and to see that decency is observed. 

By the way, there is an Irish custom in connection with 
funerals which is worth notice, and this seems a suitable 
place at which to introduce it. The Hector of Waterville, 
County Kerry, states " that it is the custom amongst his 
Protestant parishioners, when a coffin is about to be placed 
in the grave, to draw out all the nails which secure the lid, 
and which are only partially driven in. The convenience 
of the deceased at the day of the Resurrection is given as 

Perhaps I ought to have spoken about " wakes " before 
describing the ceremonies connected with the actual 
interment. The subject will, however, come in very well 

When we speak of " wakes" nowadays, we generally con- 
sider that they apply only to Ireland and the Irish. Few 
probably know what the custom signifies. 

I believe I am right in saying that the idea of " waking" 
or " watching " by the side of a body originated in days 
when medical science was undeveloped, and was intended 
1 Notes and Queries, Feb. 28, 1880. 


to test whether the person watched were really dead or 
only in a swoon. In course of time this praiseworthy cus- 
tom degenerated, and the watch or wake was used as an 
occasion of festivity. In Hazlitt's edition of Brand's 
" Popular Antiquities " we have the following : — 

Pennant, in describing Highland ceremonies, says : — 
" The late wake is a ceremony used at funerals. The even- 
ing after the death of any person, the relations and friends 
of the deceased meet at the house attended by a bagpipe or 
fiddle. The nearest of kin, be it wife, son, or daughter, 
opens a melancholy ball, dancing and greeting — i.e. crying 
violently at the same time, and this continues till daylight, 
but with such frolics and gambols among the younger part 

of the company If the corpse remain unburied 

for two nights, the same rites are renewed." 1 

In this last century a similar usage was followed in Wales ; 
but so far as I can gather the watching was accompanied 
with observances somewhat more religious than those above 

I have been favoured with a printed copy of a very 
interesting paper which was read by the Rev. N. F. Y. 
Kemble at the Carlisle Diocesan Conference in 1875. It 
deals with funeral customs in Cumberland and Westmore- 
land. Instead of breaking it up and intercalating my own 
matter with isolated portions of it, I have thought it better 
to introduce it as it stands, merely omitting a paragraph 
here and there as unnecessary in this volume, however well 
suited for the occasion on which it was originally delivered. 
Some of the notes will be found to overlap portions of the 
subject already dealt with. Mr. Kemble says : — 

"It was the universal, and is now the occasional practice, while the 
corpse remains in the house decently prepared for burial, for relations 

1 Yol.iL,p. 167. 


and friends to keep watch by it during the night, having candles, 
alight during the dark hours. 

" Along the Fell sides, within the memory of the living, a funeral 
dole of sixpence was given to every poor person visiting the house be- 
tween the death and the interment. 

" Canon Porteus, to whom I am indebted for many interesting par- 
ticulars and some valuable suggestions, informs me that the last dole 
given at Warcop was in 1812 ; but I learn that at Crosby Ravensworth 
the custom still holds. A dole of sixpence being occasionally given 
there at the grave to each poor person present. 

"This custom is to be traced to Roman Catholic times, and doubt- 
less originated with a desire to procure prayers for the dead. It is 
mentioned by Froude as one of the requests in Henry VIlI.'s will as 
given for this purpose. 

" Funeral cakes, costing threepence or fourpence each, consisting of 
two layers of paste with currants between, used very generally to be 
given at the house before the burial ; but this practice of sending 
funeral cakes, once so common, though still kept up in a few remote 
country districts, seems to have died out entirely in our towns and 
larger parishes. 

" There is a custom in some places — it prevailed at Sebergham 
when I was incumbent there — to give to each person who attends at 
the house on the day of the funeral a small piece of rich cake, care- 
fully wrapped up in white paper and sealed. This with a glass of 
wine or spirits used, I remember, to be carried round immediately 
before the lifting of the corpse. Each visitor took more or less of the 
wine or spirits, returning at once the glass to its place on the tray, and 
then selecting one of the sealed packets, carried it unopened home. 
I often tried to discover the meaning of this usage, but nobody 
seemed able to enlighten me. I believe, however, that the piece of 
cake, carefully hidden out of sight and sealed, was symbolical of the 
dead body about to be covered up and secured in the grave, and that 
the breaking of the seal and bringing the piece of cake to light again 
at some future day — which of course was expected to happen — was 
significant of the resurrection of the buried body. 

"A curious custom may be mentioned as existing in not a few 
places, viz. that of the clerk singing by himself a hymn outside the 
door previous to the moving of the procession. This singing of a. 


hymn by the clerk as a solo in presence of the company produces too 
often an effect more ludicrous than edifying, and is a practice which 
many of us would wish to see discontinued. 

"Some of us, perhaps, have felt scandalised at the retention of hats, 
by the mourners only, during the procession, and within the house of 
God, whether kneeling or sitting around the coffin, where it is usual 
to deposit it inside the church. I am at a los3 even to conjecture the 
significance of this custom ; but I am disposed to believe that nothing 
disrespectful is intended by it. Setting it down to inadvertence or 
irreverence, I once declined to proceed with the service until all hats 
were removed, and after a moment's hesitation this was done, and 
when my wishes were understood, the practice was notjpersisted in. 
I can see no object in retaining a fashion of this kind, which, from one 
point of view, is objectionable, because unscriptural, and from no point 
of view defensible. 

" It cannot, I think, be denied that there exists amongst us a strong 
feeling of respect for the dead, as evidenced, amongst other signs, by 
the pains commonly bestowed in making everything pretty and seemly 
inside the coffin, and by the strewment of flowers and evergreens upon 
the corpse — an Anglo-Saxon custom — to render as pleasing as possible 
the last sight and remembrance of the dead, the coffin lid being always 
left open, until the moment of 'lifting,' for a last fond look from 
relatives and friends. 

" As regards the solemn ceremony of ' lifting,' the usage varies in 
different parishes. In some the manner is to lift the corpse in front 
of the house, in the middle of the road. Sometimes the coffin is 
deposited outside the front door on two chairs during the first, or the 
first and second verses of a hymn, the remainder being sung by the 
mourners and friends as they move on towards the place of burial ; 
and in some parishes, on depositing the burden at the church gate, 
another hymn is sung, and » third after the reading of the lesson 
previous to carrying the body out of the sacred building to the grave 
side. But the practice of singing hymns at funerals, though a very 
ancient and laudable one, is gradually dying out. It still holds in 
some places where there is a regular choir attached to the parish 
church, at the burial of one of their brotherhood, or of any person 
well known to them. 


"There are customs, as has been already intimated, of very re- 
stricted observance. 

"For instance, at Bongate, Appleby, and at Penrith, a table is 
placed at the door, covered with a white cloth, furnished with sprigs 
of rosemary and box, a piece of which is taken by each guest on 
entering the house. The selection of box for such an occasion may be, 
and probably is, that it is an evergreen, and easily procurable ; but 
the appropriateness of rosemary is obvious. Ophelia informs us that 
it is ' for remembrance ; ' but it has a deeper significance than this. 
Heathen nations, the Romans, for instance, made use of cypress at 
their funerals, a tree which, once cut, never revives, but dies away — 
fit emblem of their belief that the bodies of their dead had perished 
for ever. A Christian, in following a brother or sister to man's ' long 
home,' bears in his hand a sprig of rosemary, which is always green, 
and which flourishes the more the more it is cut, and which, being set 
in the ground, will strike root immediately, and branch into a tree. 
By this simple, but touching figure, avouching his belief that this very 
body of his relative or friend which he is about to see solemnly com- 
mitted to the ground, will one day rise again, and be reunited to the 
soul. ' I am the Resurrection and the Life.' Hearing that voice, 

" ' "We gladlier rest 
Our darlings on earth's quiet breast, 
And our hearts feel they must not break. * 

May this innocent and significant custom always be retained amongst 

" But I turn from it to allude to one which surely even those who 
are 'native here, and to the manner born,' will be ready to admit 
would be more honoured in the breach than in the observance, namely, 
That of making proclamation in the churchyard for all friends and 
neighbours to resort for refreshment to certain public-houses. There 
is something so repulsive in this that every effort should be made to 
put a stop to it. 

" The practice and mode of ' bidding ' to funerals deserves a passing 

" In some places invitations are sent round from house to house, and 
in many parishes — it was so at Sebergham a few years ago — there is a 


person who regularly undertakes the duty of bidding. I understand 
that at Penrith and Carlisle, and possibly in other places, it is not 
unusual to employ the bellman for this purpose. The practice is to 
invite all within a certain boundary to attend the house of the deceased 
some hours before the time fixed for lifting ; and this fashion of 
inviting a large circle of friends to gather together early in the day 
furnishes opportunity for the feasting and drinking, which, as already 
observed, not infrequently results in excess and unpunctuality. I am 
told that, at Warcop, should the death occur on the south side of the 
beck, the south, or tower side, is invited ; if on the north, or hall side, 
that side is summoned to attend. Also, that a commestible, called 
' fiermity ' or ' frumity ' (Latin, frumentum), consisting of milk, white 
bread, ale, fruit, currants, etc., is made in a cheese-kettle, and served 
in a large milk-bowl. Each guest is provided with a spoon, and all 
partake in common as they will. What remains is given to children 
visiting the house the day after the burial. 

" The passing bell, which in our country in former times used to be 
rung at the hour of a person's death to obtain prayers for the departing 
soul, is rung amongst us after the decease. The solemn event is 
announced by nine tolls for a man, six for a woman, and three for a 
child, though the numbers are variable. Then, at the conclusion of 
the tolling, all the bells are heard to chime forth. Here, again, we 
may note a, custom peculiar to Warcop. The bell is tolled thrice 
during the day from the death until the burial, morning, noon, and 
night, at 8 a.m., 12 noon, and at 8 p.m. 

" A practice, more singular than important, is that which prevails in 
certain localities of telling the bees of a death in a family, and also of 
turning the hive right round before the corpse is lifted. We know 
that many superstitions exist in connection with these wonderful in- 
sects, but not the least remarkable is that which can attribute the 
desertion of a hive — and such a thing has been known at Edenhall — to. 
neglect of the attention mentioned above.'' 

We must now pass on to another phase of the subject 
which we are considering. Among the many curious 
tombs which might be mentioned, I select one, simply as a 
specimen. In the " Historical Description of Wimborne 


Minster," by Mr. G. Yeattnan, the following passage 
occurs : — " Under the south-west window (of the chancel 
aisle) is the tomb of Anthony Ettrick, the first Recorder of 
Poole, and the magistrate who committed the Duke of 
Monmouth. He, having been offended with the inhabitants 
of Wimborne, made solemn protestation that he never 
would be buried in the church or churchyard, under the 
ground or over. To fulfil his design he obtained per- 
mission to cut a niche in the wall where the coffin was 
placed during his life, and the date on the front that he 
thought he would die, in 1691 ; but he lived till 1703. It 
is visible, but the date has been altered. The tomb is of 
black marble, on which is painted the coats of arms and 
pedigree of his family. The deed (which has his signature) 
is still preserved, conveying 20s. annually to Wimborne 
churchwardens to keep his tomb in repair." 

A few words now as to inscriptions on tombstones. 
So many collections of quaint epitaphs have been pub- 
lished that it would be waste of space to dwell upon them 
here. There are, however, one or two facts to which I 
should wish to call attention. 

Mr. F. J. Ames, the postmaster at Crondall, Hants, tells 
me that the following inscription appears on a gravestone 
at Alton in the same county : — 

" Sacred to the memory of Edward Andrews. Born 
March 18, 174|. Died Jan, 1830." 

It" will be at once noticed that the above rather curious 


inscription, according to our modern views, was framed 
under the old style. According to the old system of 
reckoning, the year began on March 25. Hence, the 
seventh month was called " September," the eighth 
" October/' and so on. When the Gregorian or new style 
was adopted, the year was made to begin on the first day of 


January. E. Andrews was born on March 18 — , i.e. in the 
last month of the year 1747, old style, or the third month 
of the year 1748, new style. 

It is not always safe to trust to inscriptions on tomb- 
stones for historical facts. I am not thinking of the child 
who, in walking round a churchyard, and reading the 
eulogistic epitaphs about perfect husbands and devoted 
wives, asked her mother where all the naughty people 
were buried, but treating it as a purely historical question. 
It is noteworthy, that in Chipstead Church, Surrey, on a 
flat stone on the floor within the altar rails, there is the 
following inscription : — 


The title given here to one who was not a bishop is 
curious. And further, it must be remarked that the 
' Judicious Hooker " was never Dean of Sarum. He was 
Prebendary of Netherhaven in connection with Salisbury 
Cathedral, and I presume, in consequence, a member of the 
chapter. The explanation of the error is simple enough. 
The fact is that Hooker was appointed Sub-Dean of Sarum 
in 1591. The proper title of canons is " Very Reverend," 
and this the Roman Church has retained, although with 
ourselves it has fallen into disuse. I cannot explain the 
exact form of the title in the above epitaph, but any one can 
see that the mistake was not an altogether unnatural one. 
Lawyers and writers of history would do well to remember 
the above error. 


There were some curious customs in olden times with 
regard to burial garlands. Thus I find in the Gentleman's 
Magazine 1 a paper in which the writer, after saying that, 
in the last century, maids were rewarded at their deaths 
with a garland or crown on their heads, adds that in the 
year 1783, the clerk of the parish church of Bromley in 
Kent, when digging a grave in the churchyard close to the 
east end of the chancel wall, dug up one of these crowns or 
garlands, which was most artistically wrought in filagree 
work, with gold and silver wire in resemblance of myrtle, 
whose leaves were fastened to hoops of larger wire of iron. 
The writer states that he possessed part of the wreath and 

Of " depository garlands," he says that their use continued 
within twenty or thirty miles of London until within a 
few years of his writing. At funerals they were carried 
solemnly before the corpse by two maids, and afterwards 
hung up in some conspicuous place within the church. His 
description of the garlands is the familiar one. They have 
either gloves cut out in paper, and inscribed with the name, 
or a solitary hour-glass hanging therein. 

About forty years ago, he adds, these garlands grew 
much out of repute, and were thought by many to be 
unbecoming decorations for so sacred a place as a church. 
Many were taken down, and the hanging up of new ones 
forbidden in some places. 

Any reader who is curious to see an illustration of some 
of these funeral garlands will find two very interesting 
wood-cuts in Chambers' " Book of Days " under February 
18th, borrowed from The Reliquary, 2 where those hang- 
ing in the churches of Ashford-in-the- Water and Matlock 
are depicted. A detailed description of them is given, 
following upon a pretty quotation from Gay's poems : — 

1 Gentleman's Magazine (1747), p. 264. 

2 Vol. i., p. 7. 


" To her sweet memory flow'ry garlands strung 
On her now empty seat aloft were hung." 

Writing in 1874, tbe late Canon Humble says : — 
" Wreaths of flowers used to be carried at the funerals of 
young people at Wilton, and not thrown into the grave, but 
.hung up in the church — a sort of Disce mori better than 
the motto on the Hatchment." 

He adds, as a point to be noted, as bearing upon the 
above remark, that they were not immortelles, but fresh 
flowers such as are spoken of by Wordsworth as a custom 
in Westmoreland. 

In reply to inquiries which I made, a lady at Minsterly 
in Shropshire has been good enough to send me the 
following : — 

" Concerning the garlands in Minsterly Church, I can 
only give you the old tradition concerning them ; positive 
knowledge on the subject is, I believe, unattainable. They 
are seven in number, made of rosettes and streamers of 
ribbon on a foundation of wood, cane, or wire. In the 
centre of each are hung gloves of paper. Each one is sus- 
pended on a small stick little more than a foot in length, 
at the end of which is a wooden heart bearing initials and 
date. The latest is M. M., 1777. They are placed very 
high on the wall of the church. Tradition says that they 
are in memory of betrothed maidens, who, having lost 
their lovers by death in early youth, continued faithful to 
their first love, and led a virgin life, devoted to the memory 
of the departed. They commemorate not the betrothed 
who dies first, but the survivor who remains faithful to 
the love of her youth. ... It is said that in each case 
the garland was made by the person whose fidelity it 
commemorates. I cannot say whether any of the initials 
represent men, but the general impression is that they 
are all females.'' 


Not so many years ago, a contributor to Notes and 
Queries 1 stated that the custom of hanging up funeral 
garlands for maidens deceased still existed at Abbots Ann, 
near Andover. Pie counted nearly forty of them in the 
■church in 1873, and described them as formed of a crown 
of some metal with five white gloves, one in the centre, and 
the remainder on the circlet. 

A somewhat curious usage slightly different from the 
above, has been described to me by Mr. Leadman, F.S.A., of 
Boroughbridge. He says that at Aldborough, near there, a 
hundred or more years ago, before the old rood screen in 
the church was destroyed, garlands of flowers were hung 
up over the entrance to the choir in memory of young 
maidens and bachelors, the names of the deceased being 
inscribed in each case. 

In parts of Lancashire, a basin with sprigs of box is 
placed at the door from which the corpse is brought out 
for burial. Each person takes one, and throws it into the 
grave after the funeral. Box grown in gardens is there 
•called " burying box " by cottagers. 

At a funeral at Penynyngold, adjoining Hope in Flint- 
shire, Mr. W. H. King tells me that he saw those present 
-after the grave had been filled in, plucking sprigs of ever- 
green, and sticking them all over the grave. 

A contributor to Notes and Queries quotes from the 
Exeter Gazette a description of a funeral, and says : — " In 
accordance with the usual custom, sprigs of acacia were 
dropped on the coffin at the conclusion of the ceremony. 
The newspaper correspondent appears to have omitted all 
explanation of the custom. The deceased was a Freemason, 
as, probably, were the mourners. It is by no means an 
uncommon usage for the members of the Masonic brother- 
hood to act as above described, and it is customary for 
them to wear a sprig of acacia in their coats. 
Notes and Queries, Nov. 22, 1873. 


May I venture to speculate as to the choice of this 
particular tree ? The acacia is, I believe, the nearest 
English counterpart to the tree which is called the 
" Locust " in America. It may be remembered that William 
Cobbett, in his book on gardening, when speaking of the 
best sort of timber for fencing purposes, especially recom- 
mended " locust " to be used, for that, he says, will last for- 
ever. I quote from memory, but I believe that I am sub- 
stantially correct. 

A lady tells me that when her father, who was a Free- 
mason of the highest degree, was buried many years ago in 
Canada, he had a Masonic funeral, Masons coming from all 
parts of the Dominion. Masons took charge of the body,, 
and Masons were the bearers, all wearing a sprig of green — ■ 
she forgets what — for there was no acacia to be had. At 
the close of the service these sprigs were cast into the 
grave, so that the coffin was covered. 

If my speculation above mentioned is correct, the sprigs 
in question were most likely those from either the birch or 
the elm, as these, if I mistake not, are the two trees which 
furnish the most enduring wood when subjected to- 
moisture. Hence, perhaps, the evil practice of making 
coffins of elm in order to keep the body from the corrupting 
effects of contact 'with the earth for as long as possible, the 
very opposite to which is what all sensible people desire. 

In some places the periodical dressing of graves is most, 
carefully attended to. Thus the Vicar of Usk, Monmouth- 
shire, has been good enough to send me the following 
details. He says that for some weeks before Palm Sunday, 
the inhabitants are busy in the churchyard scouring the 
gravestones, repainting the railings, beautifying the tombs, 
and returfing the grave mounds, the churchwardens doing 
all they can to set God's acre in order. Fences are repaired, 
walks and trees trimmed, and grass cut and cleared of 


weeds. All friends of the deceased ones who are buried 
there, take care to get the slabs and stones set up before 
the great day of ancestral commemoration. 

When the day arrives, early in the morning we see 
groups of pious survivors carrying trays and baskets of 
flowers, garlands, floral crosses, and other devices, which 
have been prepared from the few flowers to be obtained at 
that early season. 

Some supplement them with exotics and plants carefully 
cherished indoors against the day. The richer people send 
for rare hothouse plants in large abundance from a London 
nursery. From early dawn the churchyard teems with a 
population of busy grave-dressers of all ranks and ages. 
When the day is fine, and no anxiety as to rain or strong 
wind is felt, the cheerful friendliness of this stage of the 
day is very pleasant and exciting. 

By church time all is complete, and about half an hour 
before that time spectators begin to arrive, ready, most of 
them, for the House of God. Through the day there is a 
large influx of visitors, affording an opportunity for many 
a friendly meeting and greeting, and many a welcome 
reminiscence is interchanged between the relatives of the 
deceased persons whose graves have been adorned. 

Moss baskets abound, and for some weeks before Palm 
Sunday the country people make and bring them into 
Usk, where they generally find a ready sale. Now and 
then a deserted desolate grave shows the entire absence of 
all representatives, but this is rare, as mostly some friend, 
out of respect for the memories of the past, is found to do 
the kind office, and to trim the lonely grave, or spare for 
it a wreath of their own. 

Mr. H. S. Simpson, writing from Cheltenham, informs 
me that in the parish of St. Weonards, near Ross, in 
Herefordshire, it was in 1836 the custom to dress the 
graves in the churchyard with flowers on Palm Sunday. 


About the year 1854 this was changed, and flowers were 
put on the graves on Easter Day instead of Palm Sunday, 
which, he adds, was called " Flowering Sunday." A lady 
at Swansea tells me that at Crickhowell, in South Wales, 
it has been the custom from time immemorial to dress not 
only the graves on Palm Sunday, but also to hang garlands 
on the monuments in the church. 



Following the sequence of services in the Prayer Book, 
we now come to the Commination Office appointed to be 
used on Ash Wednesday, which opens with the following 
words : — 

" Brethren, in the primitive Church there was a godly 
discipline that at the beginning of Lent such people as 
stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance, 
and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved 
in the day of the Lord, and that others, admonished by their 
example, might be the more afraid to offend." 

This, therefore, is the place where the matter of penance 
in the English Church should come under our consideration. 

It will be well for me to begin by transcribing some 
valuable notes respecting the legal aspect of penance, 
kindly supplied to me by Sir Walter G. F. Phillimore, 
Bart., Q.C., who writes as follows : — 

" You will find much about penance in ' Phillimore's 
Ecclesiastical Law,' pages 1367-1375. In later times two 
things were usually the subjects of penance — defamation 
of character, and incontinence, especially incest. 

" As to the latter, Lord Stowell, in Burgess v. Burgess 
(' Haggard's Consistory Reports,' p. 393), in 1804, speaks of 
the ancient solennis posnitentia before the bishop as much 
softened down, and then says — 'Looking at the age and 
infirmity of the party, and what might be the consequence 
of such a punishment, the Court will not think it necessary 
to inflict the public penance.' The man was very old. 



" In Chick t'. Ramsdale (' 1 Curteis Ecclesiastical Reports/ 
p. 35), 1835, penance for an incestuous action was directed, 
but upon a medical certificate of the woman's ill -health, was 

"In Woods v. Woods ('2 Curteis,' p. 529), 1840, Dr. 
Lushington, as judge of the Consistory Court of London, 
said — ' I think it right to say that although in some cases 
public penance has been directed, still, after considering the 
subject as carefully as I can, it has appeared to me advis- 
able not to make that part of my sentence.' 

" As late as 1856, my father, sitting as Chancellor of 
Chichester, had the matter before him in a case of incest, and 
said — ' I follow the example of Lord Stowell in Burgess v. 
Burgess, in not enjoining public penance to be performed 
by them.' (Phillimore's " Ecclesiastical Law,'' p. 1375). 

" As to ' defamation,' I find in the law books a case of 
penance enjoined as late as 1838 (Kington v. Hack, 7 
Adolphus and Ellis, Queen's Bench Reports, p. 708), but 
my idea is that there are several later. Penance in these 
cases has consisted in a more or less public asking of pardon. 

" There is certainly no statute abolishing penance, which 
still remains a legal, though unusual, ecclesiastical punish- 
ment. It was last dealt with by convocation in Queen 
Anne's time as to monies paid for ' commutation of pen- 
ance.' " 

Sir Walter Phillimore adds : — " I find that fees for com- 
mutation of penance were taken in some dioceses, and 
stood in a regular ' table of fees ' to 1832. See Ecclesias- 
tical Courts Commission Report, presented to Parliament." 

Akin to penance is the sentence of excommunication, 
concerning which Mr. Edward Peacock, F.S.A., has quoted 
the following extract from the register of the parish of 
Scotter, Lincolnshire : — 

" Memorandum. That on Septuagesima Sunday, being 
19th of January, 1667, one Francis Drury, an excommuni- 


«ate person, came into church in time of divine service in 
ye morning, and being admonisht by mee to begon, he ob- 
stinately refused. Whereuppon the whole congregation 
■departed ; and after the same manner in the afternoon he 
came againe, an refusing againe to go out the whole con- 
gregation againe went home, soe yt little or no service was 
pformed. They prevented his further coming in that 
manner, as hee threatened, by order from the justice uppon 
the statute of Queene Elizabeth concerning the molestation 
■and disturbance of publiq preachers. 

"William Caerington, Rector. 

" O tempora ! O mores ! " 

I will now proceed to give some instances of actual 
penances which have been publicly carried out. In the 
case of recent ones I suppress on charitable grounds the 
names of delinquents, so as not to give pain to the survivors 
of those who have thus publicly suffered in years gone by. 

In the archives of Exeter Cathedral the following item 
occurs under the heading, Transcript 1672, Southill, near 
Cullington, Cornwall : — 

" John Taprill, clerk, asked forgiveness of Rd. Grills 
Carpenter, within the parish church of Southill, upon a 
Sunday forenoon, after morning prayer, in the month of 
December last past for reporting things not proven. 
AVhereupon the said Taprill, longing to be revenged, did 
sing some psalms as he thought fitting to lamentable tunes 
for sorrow of his disgrace." 

Henry Machyn, the diarist, did penance at St. Paul's 
Cross, and he notifies the fact in a very amusing manner in 
his manuscript, so as, if possible, to obscure the fact that it 
was of himself that he was speaking. 


"The xxiij day of November, the iiij yere [of] Quen 
Elesabeth, dyd pryche at Powlles Crosse Renagir, yt was- 
Sant Clement day, dyd sy[t] alle the sermon tyme monser 
Henry de Machyn, for ij [words ?] the wyche was told hym, 
that Veron the French [man] the precher was taken with a 
wenche, by the reporting] by on Wylliam Laurence, clarke 
of Sant Mare Mandle [ns] in Mylke Strette, the wyche the 
sam Hare Knellyd down [be] for master Veron and the 
byshope, and yett [they] would not for[give] hym for alle 
ys fryndes that he had worshephalle." 

The parish books of All Saints, Huntingdon, contain two 
items relating to penance which have a special interest. 

" 1621, Johannes Tomlinson, Rector. Oliverus Crom- 
well, filius Roberti, reprehensus coram totam ecclesiam pro- 

Five years later appears this : — "Jo. Tomlinson, Rector, 
1626. Hoc anno Oliverus Cromwell fecit ponitentiam 
corum totam ecclesiam." J 

The following excerpt from the Worcester Journal of 
December 18, 1766, has a peculiarity of its own : — 

" A few Sundays ago Mr. M. of a certain parish not a 
thousand miles from Pershore, was married to Miss R. of 
the same parish, an agreeable young lady with a handsome 
fortune. That same morning Mr. M. for a certain familiar 
transaction with his housekeeper did penance in the same 
parish church in a white robe, immediately after which the 
ceremony of marriage between him and Miss R. commenced, 
she, with her own father, who gave her away, waiting in 
church while the penance was performing." 

1 Ecclesiologist, vol. xxiii., p. 199. 


In the Court Book of the Peculiar of Middleham in York- 
shire, for the year 1799, is the following item : — 

" That Thomas Ibbotson should be suspended from his 
office of Parish Clerk, without forfeiting his wages, until 
the tenth day of February then next, and that he do not 
approach the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on that day, 
that, by the prayers of Lent, he might be fitted for it at the 
Festival of Easter, and lastly, that, on the first Sunday of 
the ensuing Lent, he should stand during service until the 
Nicene Creed was read, before the font under the gallery, 
and then depart to a private seat, after having read dis- 
tinctly the following acknowledgment : — 

" I, Thomas Ibbotson, do acknowledge that, on the day of 
the Feast of Circumcision, I behaved very irreverently in 
the House of God, and that I interrupted the divine ser- 
vice, and conducted myself in such a manner, both in the 
church and out of it, as to give just cause of offence to 
the congregation then present ; that I was led to this mis- 
conduct by resentment, and not being perfectly sober at 
the time, for which I beg pardon of Almighty God, and do 
promise to order myself with greater sobriety and decency 
for the time to come." 1 

There are instances known in which irregular penances 
were performed. The following, I take it, was one of 
them, and was imposed either by their sect, or by the 
fanatics upon themselves : — 

" December 22. A man and woman, Quakers, walked 
through the streets of Bristol, Gloucester, and Oxford, at 
separate times, clothed in hair sackcloth, repeating some- 
thing as they passed along, doing penance for," etc. etc. 2 

1 Ecclesiolugist, vol. vii., p. 246. 

2 Gentleman's Magazine (1748), p. 571. 


It is generally supposed that doing public penance is 
quite a thing of the distant past, and, perhaps, even the 
case given above, of penance being undergone in 1799, will 
surprise some readers. I have, however, amongst my mem- 
oranda, instances occurring up to the middle of the present 
century. In the Church Times of February 13th, 1880, a 
lady correspondent wrote from Manchester to say that, 
some time about the year 1845, a gentleman, holding a good 
position in a midland city, said of a lady in the same city 
that he had seen her drunk in the streets. For this slander, 
her husband prosecuted him in the civil courts, and her 
father in the Consistory Court of the diocese. In the 
former he was fined £300, and in the latter the then chan- 
cellor sentenced him to do penance in a white sheet at the 
door of his parish church on the following Ash Wednesday. 
What renders this case more curious is that the " slander "' 
in question was a fact known to be true ! 

Public penance for defamation of character was done in 
the parish church of Westbury-on-Severn, Newnham, 
Gloucestershire, on July 8, 1846. 

The Kev. W. J. Frere tells me that Sister of St. 

Barnabas, Leeds, informed him that, as a child, she saw in 
Kirk Christ, Callan, Isle of Man, four or five persons 
standing in sheets in the church to do penance during 

In 1849, an inhabitant of a village in Cambridgeshire 
was sentenced by the Ecclesiastical Court to do penance, 
having been found guilty of the charge of defamation 
of character brought against him by the wife of the 

If the same discipline were exercised now, which, as the 
Prayer Book says, " is much to be wished," it would, me- 
thinks, go far to put a stop to ill-natured gossip, and to the 
circulation of malevolent stories which is so common in the 
present day. 



The services for the ordination of deacons and priests, and 
for the consecration of bishops, which come next in the 
Prayer Book, indicate that matters of Church Folklore 
connected directly with the clergy should now be dealt 
with. The late Canon Humble, writing in 1874, remarked 
that the word " priest," as applied to the clergy, was univer- 
sal throughout the north of England. A friend once told 
him that in walking out of Newcastle some years before, 
he was attracted by a boy, who was in advance, audibly 
fixing upon the trade or profession of everyone he met. 
After making several shrewd guesses, he said of one passing 
him, " And thou's a preacher ; " in a short time meeting a 
clergyman he remarked, " And thou's a priest." 

The canon went on to say that " the name really ex- 
presses the thought of the sacred character borne by the 
clergy. It is quite generally admitted that a priest may 
go anywhere, and at any time of the day or night, and he 
will never be molested if it be known what he is. 

"During strikes, as they used to be conducted thirty 
years ago, with violence and great personal abuse, the clergy, 
though they universally opposed the men, greatly owing to 
the extreme lawlessness of their proceedings, could address 
large numbers of pitmen as to their duties without eliciting 
anything more than a quiet remonstrance that the clergy 
did not know what they (the men) had to bear from under- 



" I remember on one occasion the men who were in ex- 
treme want organised bands to go about the country and 
ask for bread, and their numbers struck terror into the 
people in lonely places, and they gave them whatever they 
asked for. 

" One such party came to my lodgings. I went out and 
addressed them, and told them that not only would I not 
give them anything, coming in the menacing way they 
did, but that I would advise every one I could influence to 
refuse them also. The men began to justify themselves, 
find were for arguing out the case. A layman under such 
circumstances would have been very roughly treated. 
Coal - owners at that time sent their plate and other 
valuables to the residences of the clergy. The approach of 
the clergyman is signalled by the first person who sees him, 
so that anything not very respectable that is going on may 
be stopped in time : ' Hush, hush, here's the priest.' " 

In harmony with this is what the Rev. Eddowes of St. 
Jude's, Bradford, states. When he was curate of Garton-in- 
the-Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the clergyman 
was always spoken of as the " priest." He says that he 
was called by the poor " the Garton Priest," and similarly 
the vicars around were known by the name of their parishes. 
It is the same, as another clergyman has told me, in the 
North Riding. The Rev. Thomas Fenton, Vicar of Ings, 
Kendal, says that to this day the old people thereabouts 
speak of " Priest Strickland " (of Staveley) and of " Parson 
Airey " (of Ings or Hugil) ; the two churches are not a 
couple of miles apart. The writer does not mention why 
this distinction is made between the two clergymen. 

To show that the clerical title mentioned was not peculiar 
to the north of England, I would draw attention to a passage 
in " My Life," by Mr. T. Sidney Cooper, R.A., who was born 
in 1803 at Canterbury, and spent all his early years in that 
city. In relating an anecdote of his meeting the Archbishop 


of Canterbury in the year 1815, Mr. Cooper writes thus: — " I 
said to myself, ' That's a priest.' In those days the boy.s 
called all parsons ' priests,' and I could see he was a clergy- 
man of some sort." 1 

Few persons, I imagine, are aware of the existence of 
the title " Lord Rector," as belonging to a clergyman. Be- 
fore me is a letter from the Rev. R. Noble Jackson, Vicar of 
Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, and Lord Rector of Sudeley— 
the place, by the way, where Queen Katharine Parr was 
buried. It contains such out-of-the-way information that 
I must give it in full. The letter bears date Sept. 4, 1888. 
Mr. Jackson writes from Winchcombe as follows : — 

" It is not in my capacity as vicar of this parish, but as 
having charge of an adjacent parish of Sudeley, that I am 
Lord Rector thereof. I am resigning this living, but shall 
still retain that of Sudeley, with its vast honours and 
emoluments. The fact is that the endowment of Sudeley 
being so small, and the population not a hundred, I, like my 
predecessors, have held the two livings, but the offices are 
quite distinct — Vicar of Winchcombe, and Lord Rector of 
Sudeley. As to the latter title (I believe there are five 
other lord rectors in England) I suppose it is connected 
with the copyhold lands belonging to the living. I have 
now open before me, and partially unrolled, the Court Roll 
of the parish of Sudeley, to which my immediate prede- 
cessor added in his lifetime (by measurement just made) 
more than twelve yards. In it, for instance, unrolling to 
his immediate predecessor I find this : — 

" ' The Court Baron of the Rev. J. J. Lates, etc., Rector 
of Sudeley, and Lord of the Manor aforesaid, holden 9th of 
March, in the eighth year of our Sovereign Lord George 
Fourth, and in the year of our Lord, 1827, before John 

] Vol. i., p. 45. 


James Lates, Lord of the said Manor, William Staite ami 
Thomas Hale, homage sworn,' etc. etc." 

Whilst engaged upon clerical titles, I must transcribe 
another letter, received by me ten years ago in reply to in- 
quiries relative to that of " Archpriest." The Rev. Fitz- 
william John Taylor, dating from East Ogwell Rectory, 
Newton Abbot, Devon, writes : — 

" I understand that there are in the diocesan registry 
office, at Exeter (though I have never seen them) documents 
setting forth the privileges of the Archpriest of Haccombe, 
the chief being immunity from any but Archiepiscopal 
visitations ; the right to sit next the bishop on all public 
occasions, and to wear lawn sleeves. I do not know whether 
my predecessor, Mr. Carew, ever exercised this latter privi- 
lege, but I have never done so myself. I was, however, 
instituted formally to the Rectory or Archpriesthood of 
Haccombe, and you will perceive by a slip from our diocesan 
calendar, which, I append, that I am there called ' Arch- 
priest.' I also never answer at the visitations of the bishop 
or archdeacon when Haccombe is called. 

" I have heard that there is another archpriest somewhere 
in England, but I cannot tell you where." 

The item in the Exeter Diocesan Calendar, to which Mr. 
Taylor refers, runs thus : — 

" Taylor, Fitzwilliam John, R. E. and W. Ogwell, and 
Archpriest of Haccombe. Newton Abbot . . . 1842." 

But if the clerical titles of " Archpriest " and " Lord 
Rector '' sound strange to most ears, what is to be said to 
that of " Cardinal in St. Paul's " ? Yet such is the title 
held at the present day by two of the twelve minor canons 
of the London Cathedral. On the title page of his book, 


" Chapters in the History of Old St. Paul's," Dr. Sparrow- 
Simpson, F.S.A., describes himself as " Junior Cardinal in 
St. Paul's Cathedral." From a later book by the same 
author, called " Gleanings from Old St. Paul's," I learn that 
among the Harleian MSS. 1 is a volume of " Fragments " 
collected by one Thomas Gybbons, Esq., in which occurs 
the following passage : — " The Church of St. Paul's had, 
before the time of the conqueror, two cardinals, which office 
still continue (sic). They are chosen by the dean and 
chapter out of the number of the twelve petty canons, and 
are called Cardinales Ghori. Their office is to take notice 
of the absence or neglect of all the quire, and weekly to 
render account thereof to the dean and chapter. . . . Not 
any cathedral church hath cardinals beside this, nor are 
any beyond seas to be found to be dignified with this title, 
saving the churches of Rome, Ravenna, Aquileia, Millan, 
Pisa, Beneuent in Italy, and Compostella in Spayn " (p. 6). 

Two or three pages further on we are told that the 
college of minor canons consists of twelve priests, of whom 
the first is sub-dean, and the second and third, Cardinales 
Chori. Their several duties are described, and it is said 
that "by way of recompense for these manifold labours they 
shall receive certain offerings of the faithful, and also a 
larger portion of bread and beer." 

From the answers to the inquiries made at the first 
visitation of the Bishop of London (Bancroft) in 1598, re- 
specting the reading of prayers at 5 o'clock in the morning 
in summer, and 6 o'clock in the winter, it was stated that 
it was always done by the " Petticannons " in their course, 
"savinge the sub-dean and the two cardinalls, who have byn 
allwayes freed from that dutye." 

Let us now go on to consider the social status of the 
clergy in times gone by. 

There is (says Mr. Overton) an odd illustration of the 
1 Harleian MSS., No. 930, fo. 170, a. 


immeasurable distance which was supposed to separate the 
bishop from the curate in " Cradock's Reminiscences." 
Bishop Warburton was to preach at St. Lawrence's Church 
in behalf of the London Hospital. " I was/' writes Cradock, 
" introduced into the vestry by a friend, where the Lord 
Mayor and others were waiting for the Duke of York, who 
was their president, and in the meantime the bishop did 
everything in his power to entertain and alleviate their 
patience. He was beyond measure condescending and 
courteous, and even graciously handed some biscuits and 
wine on a salver to the curate who was to read prayers." 1 

Dean Swift, in his "Project for the Advancement of 
Religion," speaks of curates in the most contemptuous 
terms. In London a clergyman, with one or two sorry 
curates, has sometimes the care of above 20,000 incumbent 
on him. 

The following note shows what remuneration for casual 
clerical duty was customary two hundred years ago. 

Stackhouse, in his " Miseries and Great Hardships of the 
Inferior Clergy in and about London," tells us that they 
were objects of extreme wretchedness. They lived in 
garrets, and appeared in the streets in tattered cassocks. 
The common fee for a sermon was a shilling and a dinner, 
for reading prayers, twopence and a cup of coffee. 

And then as to their families : the following picture 
drawn by Dean Swift of the poorer clerical households is a 
sad one. He says that the wife is little better than Goody in 
her birth, education, and dress, and as to himself, we must 
let his parentage alone. If he be the son of a farmer it 
is very sufficient, and his sister may be very decently 
chamber-maid to the squire's wife. He goes about on 
working days in a grazier's coat, and will not scruple to 
assist his workmen in harvest time. His daughter shall go 
to service, or be sent apprentice to the sempstress in the 
1 Abbey and Overton : vol. ii., ch. i. 


next town, and his sons are put to honest trades. This is 
the usual course of an English vicar with from £20 to £60 
a year. 

We must bear in mind that Dean Swift was not over- 
scrupulous as regards the statements which he made, and 
we must take his words for what they are worth. Never- 
theless, I am inclined to think that Mr. Overton is not far 
off the truth when he suggests that Fielding's character of 
Parson Adams and Parson Trulliber are fair specimens of 
the higher and lower type of the poorer class of clergy of 
that day. 

I have picked up some rather curious items relative to 
the refreshment provided for the clergy in past days. An 
instance was given above ; here are two or three more. 
The following item appears in the vestry minutes at 
Haverin£-atte-Bower in Essex : — 

" At a Vestry held at St. Marie's Chappel, Havering, ye 
9th of Nov., 1717. 

" Agreed — Yt a pint of sack be allowed ye minister 
jt officiates ye Lord's Day ye winter season."' 

In the north of England they seem to have been excep- 
tionally liberal to the clergy. Thus in the vestry book of 
the parish of Preston, under date April 19, 1731, it is 
ordered that two bottles of wine be allowed any strange 
clergyman that shall at any time preach. 2 Query — was 
this intended as his fee, or had he a money gift besides ? 

An old curate of Romford recollects that when charity 
sermons were preached for the parochial schools, the vestry 
table was covered with a large white communion cloth, and 
that bottles of Port and Sherry, with plates of almonds 

1 Notes and Queries (18G0), p. 90. 

2 Ibid., (18G0), p. 187. 


and raisins, biscuits, etc., were provided for the clergymen 
and their friends. 1 

The Rev. Bowyer Vaux of Great Yarmouth states that 
fifty years ago, at St. Philips, Birmingham, wine was always 
placed on the vestry table on Sunday for the refreshment 
of the clergy. He has himself partaken of it several times. 
I remember hearing about this when, as a boy, I used to 
attend that church, and thinking what a very comfortable 
arrangement it was. 

At some of the city churches in London — St Dionis, 
Backchurch, for instance — there was formerly, and perhaps 
still is, a similar custom according to a contributor to Notes 
and Queries. He adds that on occasions when the Lord 
Mayor and other members of the Corporation attend in 
state, wine, cake, and biscuits are handed round to all who 
have the entree at the close of the morning service. 

It was not always that the good things in the vestry 
were confined to the clergy and their privileged friends. 
It has been the custom from time immemorial to mark the 
return of Palm Sunday at Hentland Church, Boss, in a 
peculiar manner. The minister and congregation receive 
from the churchwardens, a cake or bun, and, in former 
times, a cup of beer also. This is consumed within the 
church, and is supposed to imply a desire on the part of 
those who partake of it, to forget all past animosities, and 
thus prepare themselves for Easter. 2 

We now come to the question of Pluralities. The follow- 
ing instances of the enjoyment of these by the higher 
clergy, and their indulgence in non-residence, will give 
some idea of the church abuses which were tolerated a 
hundred and fifty years ago. The great aim of these 
dignified clerics seems to have been to get as much prefer- 

1 Notes and Queries (1 860), p. 354. 
" Ibid., (1865), p. 171. 


«ient as they could, and to keep it as long as possible. 
The amount of subserviency which they must have been 
guilty of to those in high position who had good things at 
their disposal is humiliating to contemplate. One would 
not have been surprised at anything from bishops like 
Burnet and Hoadley, but men of a far higher type, speak- 
ing generally, seem in the matters of pluralities and non- 
residence, to have known no such thing as conscience, or 
even to have had an idea that they were doing anything 

Bishop Newton, the amiable and learned author of 
" Dissertations on the Prophecies," mentions it as an act of 
almost Quixotic disinterestedness, that when he obtained 
the deanery of St. Pauls, i e. in addition to his bishopric, 
he resigned his living in the city, having held it for twenty- 
five years. In another passage he plaintively enumerates 
the various preferments he had to resign on taking the 
bishopric of Bristol (1761-1782). He was obliged to give 
up the prebendal stall at Westminster, the precentorship of 
York, the lectureship of St. George's, Hanover Square, 
and the genteel office of sub-almoner. On another occasion 
we find him conjuring his friend, Bishop Pearce, of 
Rochester, not to resign the deanery of Westminster. 

Herring held the deanery of Rochester in commandant 
with the bishopric of Bangor (1738-1743). Wilcocks was 
Bishop of Rochester (1731-1748), and Dean of Westminster, 
and was succeeded both in the deanery and the bishopric 
by Zachary Pearce (1756-1774). Hoadley held the See of 
Bangor for six years (1716-1721), apparently without ever 
seeing the diocese in his life. . . . Bishop Watson, of 
Llandaff, gives a most artless account of his non-residence 
(1782-1816). "Having," he tells us, "no place of residence in 
my diocese, I turned my attention to the improvement of 
land. I thought the improvement of a man's fortune by 
cultivating the earth, was the most useful and honourable 


way of providing for a family. I have now, for several 
years, been occupied as an improver of land and a planter 
of trees." The same bishop gives us the most extraordinary 
description of the sources whence his clerical income was 
derived. "The provision of £2,000," he says, "which I possess 
from the Church, arises from the tithes of two churches in 
Shropshire, two in Leicestershire, two in my diocese, three 
in Huntingdonshire, on all of which I have resident curates; 
of five more appropriations to the bishopric, and two more 
in the isle of Ely as appropriations to the archdeaconry of 
Ely." From a letter of George III., to Mr. Pitt, in 1787, it 
would seem that public opinion was at last somewhat out- 
raged by the existence of these evils. The king, 
himself, felt strongly the mischief they were doing, but 
he could only protest ineffectually against their con- 
tinuance. 1 

This is a long extract, but I have thought well to give it,, 
as it presents in such a graphic manner the state of things 
in the English Church in the " good old times." Scandals,, 
like those above related, may, perhaps, be thought to be 
things entirely of the past. Not so. I happen to know a 
parish, forty miles from London, where the late incumbent,, 
who resigned about three years ago, had not been in 
residence for over fifty years. I trust that in these daj's 
this is a unique case. 

In connection with what has been said above, the condi- 
tion in which the Scilly Isles were left as regards church 
privileges above a century ago is worth noting. 

In 1774, according to some writers, there was only one 
ecclesiastical person upon the Scilly Islands, whose resi- 
dence was at St. Mary's, and who visited the other islands 
once a year. But Campbell, in his " Political Survey," says 
that service is performed and sermons preached, or rather 
read, every Sunday in the churches of these islands by an 
1 Abbey and Overton: vol. ii., p. 11. 


honest layman appointed fox* that purpose. 1 What we call 
lay readers were, if I mistake not, recognised by convoca- 
tion about two hundred years previous to the date given 

Until a comparatively recent date, the neglect of the 
secular authorities in dealing with prisoners is notorious, 
and when their temporal needs were so ill looked after it 
is not to be expected that attention should have been paid 
to their spiritual requirements. More than three hundred 
years ago, public attention was called to this. Bishop 
Latimer, in a sermon preached before Edward VI. in 1549, 
said : — " Oh, I would ye would resort to prisons ! a com- 
mendable thing in a Christian realm. I would wish there 
were curates of prisons, that we might say ' the Curate of 
Newgate,' 'the Curate of the Fleet,' and I would have 
them waged for their labour." A contributor to Notes and 
Queries, in 1850, states that gaol chaplains were made 
universal by Act of Parliament in the fourth year of 
George IV. Before that they may have existed in some 
places. In Gloucestershire from 1786. 

Most people are aware that men in holy orders are dis- 
qualified from sitting in the House of Commons. This was 
finally settled by 41 Geo. III., c. 63, an Act passed in 1801. 
This Act had especial reference to the political agitator, 
Home Tooke, who was a priest, having been ordained in 
1760, and through his interest with Lord Camelford had 
been appointed to represent the borough of Old Sarum in 
the House of Commons. There was at the same time a 
deacon M.P. This was the Rev. Edward Rushworth 
member for Newport, in the Isle of Wight. Both these 
members retained their seats until the dissolution in June 

The following instance of a diplomatic deacon is pro- 
1 Notes mid Queries (1856), p. 222. 


bably without a parallel during the last two hundred 

In the " Lexington Papers " mention is made of a Mr. 
Robert Sutton, who, after having taken deacon's orders, 
and having accompanied his relative, Lord Lexington, to 
Vienna in the joint capacity of chaplain and secretary, was, 
on his recall in 1697, appointed resident minister at the 
Imperial Court ; was subsequently sent as envoy extraor- 
dinary to the Ottoman Porte; in 1720, succeeded Lord 
Stair as British minister in Paris ; in 1721 was elected 
M.P. for Notts; and in 1725 was created Knight of the 
Bath. 1 

There were formerly, as all know, parishes which were 
called " Peculiars," and which were exempt from the juris- 
diction of the bishop of the diocese in which they were 
situated, and subject only to the metropolitan. As the 
clergy in these parishes were in a somewhat abnormal 
position, one or two notes respecting them will not be out 
of place here. 

Romford, Essex, is a civil parish, but is not separated 
from Hornchurch for ecclesiastical purposes. All the tithes, 
great and small, of Hornchurch and Romford were given to 
New College, Oxford, by William of Wykeham, five 
hundred years ago, and are still held by that society. 
There is no endowment, properly so called, attached to the 
church at Romford, but a yearly stipend of £700 is granted 
by New College. The so-called Vicar of Romford is 
neither instituted nor inducted, but holds his position, 
under a private deed, from New College, and, I understand, 
is not bound to residence at Romford, nor restrained from 
holding a benefice with the cure of souls elsewhere. This 
was the case formerly, but it may not hold good now. In 
the vestry book at Romford are, as I am told, several 
minutes made by successive bishops, who, being allowed to 
1 Notes and Queries, Jan. 3, ] 852. 


officiate in the church, were required to disclaim any author- 
ity or power therein. 

The Rev. the Hon. F. G. Dutton, Vicar of Bibury, Fair- 
ford, has told me that Bibury was a " Peculiar " till 1847,. 
when it shared the fate of other " Peculiars," and was 
placed under the jurisdiction of the bishop. Mr. Cresswell, 
the previous vicar, always refused to allow Bishop Monk 
to enter the church. 



Among lay church officers the churchwardens naturally 
stand first. At the present day it is probable that but few 
of those who hold the office are aware how multifarious 
and important are their duties. The popular notion would 
seem to be that they are in some way responsible for the 
well-being of the Church fabric, and the preservation of the 
" ornaments," with certain other minor matters. Not so, 
their responsibility extends much farther than this. 
According to Canon 113, they are to take care for the 
suppressing of all sin and wickedness in their parishes, and 
to take note of persons who have a general evil character 
among their neighbours, and to present them to those who 
have ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Indeed the multiplicity as 
well as the invidious nature of their defined duties led a 
writer at the beginning of the century to say, that not- 
withstanding that they were solemnly bound to all kinds 
of unpleasant and compromising work, very few steps were 
taken towards the performance of their duties. In some 
parishes, however, a semblance of paying regard to their 
■oaths seems to have been kept up. I believe that at Hope, 
near Sheffield, for instance, it was formerly the custom 
during the morning service, after the banns had been pub- 
lished, or if no banns after the second lesson, for the 
churchwardens to leave the church and to go round the 
public-houses near the churchyard to see that all was quiet. 

This done, they returned to the church in time for the 



sermon. A friend tells me that this used to be very 
generally done in the West Riding of Yorkshire in times 
gone by, and that even so lately as in 1872 the church- 
wardens of one parish got into trouble through the police 
rinding them drinking in a public-house which they had 
visited officially during morning service. At Manchester, 
at the close of the last century, it was the custom for the 
chief magistrate of the town, with the churchwardens and 
police officers, to leave the church after the first lesson, and 
to compel all persons found in the streets to come into the 
church or pay a fine. 

At Acton Church in Cheshire I am told that as recently 
as fifty years ago one of the churchwardens used to walk 
round the church during service time with a long wand, 
with which he gave a tap on the head to any member of 
the congregation who seemed to require it. We shall see 
lower down that this duty was generally relegated to an 
inferior officer. 

The appointment of women as churchwardens is not un- 
known. I am told that in 1890 a lady officiated in that 
capacity at Pill in Somersetshire ; and the Guardian, 
giving an account of the Easter vestries in its issue of May 
27, 1891, announced that the Vicar of Machynlleth had 
nominated as his churchwarden the Dowager-Marchioness 
of Londonderry, who accepted the office. 

If the churchwardens' books in country places were well 
searched a number of queer old-world usages would be 
brought to light. I cannot refrain from giving the follow- 
ing item, not merely because it relates to a bit of vulgar 
credulousness on the part of our rural populations, which 
it is to be hoped is fast dying out, but for the delightful 
comment made upon it by my correspondent. 

In the churchwardens' accounts in a parish in Worcester- 
shire, frequent mention is made of sums paid for " killing 
urchins." In sending me this note the vicar humorously 


remarks : — " In my ignorance I at first supposed it to re- 
present the way of keeping down the population, or of 
securing order in the Sunday School in these remote regions, 
but better informed people told me that these items only 
refer to the scarcely less reprehensible slaughter of inno- 
cent hedgehogs." 

A good many queer usages cluster round the office of 
parish clerk. It was the clerk who always gave out the 
hymns, or rather metrical psalms, with the prefatory 
words, "Let us sing to the praise and glory of God," a 
usage which can, I presume, be still retained only in the 
most out-of-the-way parishes. It was the clerk who pub- 
lished all the notices, both religious and secular — for the 
most secular announcements were often made during ser- 
vice, such as would never be heard now. About the oddest 
of these notices that I have come across is the following. 

About the year 1838 the clerk of a parish in Lancashire, 
in the course of his ordinary duties as notice-giver in 
church, had to announce that some carrots had been stolen 
from the vicar's garden, and that a sovereign would be 
awarded to anyone who would give such information as 
would lead to the detection of the thief. The clerk himself 
had stolen the carrots, some of which were boiling on 
his fire for dinner at the time that he gave the notice. In 
the afternoon his wife informed against him, and claimed 
the reward. That woman was certainly a fine specimen of 
a managing housewife, to get both the carrots and the 
money ! 

It will serve to illustrate the free-and-easiness with 
which the services of the Church were conducted in former 
days in some country parishes if I relate what was told nie 
by a gentleman, who vouched for the strict accuracy of 
the story. When a boy, he was passing through a village 
one Sunday morning, and turned into the church for ser- 


vice. He was shown into a pew close to the " three- 
decker." Towards the end of the prayers the parson leant 
over towards the clerk's desk, just below him, and said, in 
quite an audible voice, "John, is Parliament sitting?" 
" What do you say ? '' " Shall I pray for the Parliament ?" 
" Yes, I think you'd better ; they're a damned bad lot." 

In the seventeenth century it would appear that there 
was often a difficulty in providing remuneration for the 
parish clerk, and the custom of having " Clerk Ales " was 
still kept up. These, as I have already said, were gather- 
ings at which the feasters contributed the materials, and 
the proceeds were devoted to increasing the parish clerk's 
too meagre salary. 

From the communications which appear in one issue of 
Notes and Queries — that of October 8th, 1853 — in relation 
to women acting as parish clerks, I imagine that this has 
been no very unusual arrangement in times past. In that 
one number of the publication we have five correspondents 
giving instances. One quotes from Burns'" Parish Registers," 
p. 110, as follows :—" 1802, March 2nd. Buried Elizabeth 
King, widow, for forty-six years clerk of the parish, in the 
ninety-first year of her age." Another states that in 1828, 
a woman was clerk in the parish of Sudbrook, near 
Lincoln, and died in that capacity a few years afterwards. 
A third remarks that a woman has long officiated as parish 
clerk at Ickburgh, near Thetford, and still continues acting 
in that capacity. Another refers to Madame D'Arblay's 
Diary, vol. i., p. 246. " There was at Collumpton (Devon) 
only a poor, wretched, ragged woman, a female clerk, to 
show us this church. She pays a man for doing the duty 
while she receives the salary in right of her deceased 
husband." And lastly, Mr. Herbert L. Allen writes that at 
Misterton, near Crewkerne, Somerset, Mary Mountford 
was clerk for more than thirty years. She gave up the 
office about the year 1832, and is now (1853) in Beaminster 


Union, just 89 years old. Similarly, Mrs. Sheldon was 
clerk at Wheatley in Oxfordshire, in the earlier part of 
this century, and the sexton's mother held the like office 
at Avington, Hungerford, for twenty-six years. It is 
worth mentioning that at the present time the parish 
clerk at St. Margaret-at-Cliffe, near Dover, is a woman — 
Mrs. Goldsack. She succeeded to the office on the death of 
her husband. 

Those who are interested in the question of the legality 
of such appointments should consult Prideaux's "Directions 
to Churchwardens," Rex v. Stubbs, 2 T.R. 359, and Olive v. 
Ingram, 2 Strange, 1114. 

The office of parish clerk has not infrequently been 
handed on from father to son during a lengthened period. 
Thus the family of Osborns at Bellbroughton, and of Rose 
at Bromsgrove, have supplied hereditary parish clerks 
through many generations. The Osborns have been tailors 
since Henry VIII.'s time, and can trace their descent 
three centuries further back. The office of parish clerk 
has been hereditary in the parishes of Hope and of King's 
Norton. 1 As the writer deals only with those which he 
knows in Worcestershire, we may be sure that similar 
instances might be found to exist in other counties. 

Sextons appear also to have sometimes inherited their 
office. The Derbyshire Advertiser is said to have con- 
tained the following obituary notice : — " On January 23, 
1854, aged 86, Mr. Peter Bramwell, sexton of the parish 
church of Chapel-en-le-Nith. The deceased served the 
office of sexton forty-three years ; Peter Bramwell, his 
father, fifty years; George Bramwell, his grandfather,, 
thirty-eight years ; George Bramwell, his great-grand- 
father, forty years ; and Peter Bramwell, his great-great- 
grandfather, fifty-two years. Total — two hundred and 
twenty-three years." 

1 Notes and Queries, May 27, 1854. 


To return to the question of female church officials. Mr. 
Cripps, in his " Laws of the Church and Clergy," 1 states 
that it has been decided that a woman may be chosen for. 
and exercise the office of sextoness, and vote in the election of 
one. The reason given by the court in arriving atthisdecision 
— notwithstanding that it was argued that women could not 
vote for members of Parliament — was that, as this was an 
office which did not concern the public, nor the care and 
inspection of the morals of parishioners, there was no reason 
why a woman who paid the rates should not vote. This 
was not altogether as complimentary as it might have been 
to the gentler sex, and after our recent experiences it is very 
touching to learn that members of Parliament, as such, are 
to be looked upon as guardians of public morals ! 

Several years ago I asked certain intelligent and gener- 
ally well informed friends whether they had ever heard of the 
" dogwhipper " as a recognised church officer, and in every 
case the reply was in the negative. This I did to satisfy 
myself as to how far old church customs were likely to be 
familiar to the class of persons for whom this volume is 
designed. The result of the simple inquiry seemed to 
justify the preparation and publication of this book as be- 
ing likely to contain a record of things not generally 

The " dogwhipper " in our churches was formerly, I 
take it, pretty nearly as regularly appointed an officer as 
the sexton, and in a number of parishes the title is still re- 
tained. In the parish in which I am writing now the man 
who keeps order amongst the boys at church — " trouble- 
some young dogs" — is known by the elder people as the 
" dogwhipper." Five and forty years ago an announcement 
appeared in the Exeter Gazette, that Mr. Jonathan Pritchard, 
in the employ of the Rev. Chancellor Martin, had been ap- 
1 Cripps, p. 203, 6th edition. 


pointed dogwhipper of Exeter Cathedral in the room of Mr. 
Charles Reynolds, deceased, and the Vicar of Danby has 
told me that up to the middle of the present century this 
officer was regularly on duty in his parish. The man 
always displayed the lash of his whip, which hung out of 
his pocket. The office no longer exists there. 

Our American cousins also had similar functionaries, as 
will be seen from an entry in the vestry book of Shrews- 
bury parish, in the diocese of Maryland, as follows : — 

"1725, May 1. Agreed that Thomas Thornton shall keep 
and whip the dogs out of the church every Sunday till 
next Easter Monday, and also the cattle from about the 
churchyard, for a hundred pounds of tobacco." 1 

Truly a characteristic mode of payment. 

In some parishes what were known as " dog tongs " 
were provided, arranged after the fashion of the "lazy 
tongs " sometimes used by shopkeepers to reach light goods 
from their windows. Thus at the parish church of 
Llanynys, near Denbigh, a pair of these exist, which, when 
closed, are about 2 feet 6 inches long, and when opened for 
use would extend to a distance of 7 or 8 feet. The effect 
in church when a dog was gripped by the instrument must 
have been interesting. The vicar tells me that no one now 
living in the parish remembers their being used. If they 
had been used, anybody who happened to be in church 
would have remembered it. Those who were at the Rhyl 
Church Congress, in 1891, and visited the Ecclesiastical Art 
Exhibition, may remember that a pair of wooden dog tongs 
formed an item in the loan collection there. They were 
the identical pair of which I have just spoken. 

According to Mr. J. Charles Cox, F.S.A., there is a similar 
instrument preserved in the church of Clynnog-Fawr in 
1 Notes and Queries, September ?, 1854. 


the diocese of Bangor. In these the clipping part appears 
to have been furnished with short spikes. 

The same gentleman describes the old dogwhippers' 
implement, such as was commonly in use, as a whip with a 
thong about three feet long, fastened to a short ash stick 
with a band of twisted leather round the handle. An 
article of this kind is preserved in Baslow Church, an 
ancient chapel of Bakewell, Derbyshire. 

Money was sometimes bequeathed to endow the office. 
At Barton Turf, Norfolk, the parish clerk has the rent of 
three acres of land called " dogwhippers' land," and the 
Vicar of Chislet has sent me the following extract from the 
benefaction board in his church : — " Ten shillings are to be 
paid yearly to a dogwhipper, charged on an acre of marsh 
land belonging to Sir John W. H. Brydges." In the parish 
of Peterchurch in Herefordshire an acre of land is appro- 
priated to the use of the official who keeps dogs out of 

In some places the dogwhipper had another duty to per- 
form, viz. that of keeping people awake during sermon 
time. Thus Richard Dovey of Farncote in Shropshire, in 
1659, charged certain cottages with the payment of eight 
shillings to some poor man of the parish of Claverly for 
awakening sleepers and turning dogs out of church. The 
benefaction board in Trysull Church in Staffordshire states 
that John Rudge by his will, dated 1725, gave five shill- 
ings a quarter to waken people who slept during sermon 
time, to keep dogs out of church, and to clean the church 
windows. In the churchwardens' accounts at Barton-on- 
Humber appears the following entry : — " 1740. Paid 
Brocklebank for waking sleepers, two shillings." At Acton 
in Cheshire, and at Dunchurch, a man was, I believe, 
specially appointed to perform these duties. The imple- 
ment which he used was a stick shaped like a hay fork, 
which was fitted on to the sleeper's neck, and it was, no 


doubt, when well pushed home, sufficiently effectual. At 
Wolverhampton five shillings is to be paid for keeping boys 
quiet during service. No doubt this custom was fairly 

In one parish of which I have an account the arrange- 
ment for waking sleepers was remarkably complete. The 
official who walked about the church had a long wand with 
a nob at one end, for the men and boys, and a fox's brush at 
the other, with which he tickled the nostrils of the ladies 
who happened to be found dozing. This delicate treatment 
of the fair sex, even in their erring moments, is worthy of 
all commendation and imitation. 

Mr. A. J. Munby, F.S.A., tells me that at the east end of 
St. Crux Church, York, there is a gate commonly known 
as " Whip-ma- wh op-ma Gate," where on Whitsun Tuesday 
(he thinks) every passing dog used to be whipped in con- 
sequence of a certain dog which had once stolen the Blessed 
Sacrament at St. Crux. This is a curious illustration of 
the sins of the fathers being visited on the children. 



I ENTER upon this portion of my subject with fear and 
trembling lest I should say something which will not find 
favour with, this or that church architect. I must, however, 
run the risk, and hope for the best. 

It was necessary to speak of pews in the opening chapter 
of this book as tending to illustrate certain matters there 
dealt with. There are, however, a few more remarks to be 
made which may suitably come in here. 

Even in the middle of the last century, when pews were 
considered everywhere to be the correct thing, we find, as 
Mr. A. Ingleby reminds me, that at the rebuilding of West 
Wycombe Church, Bucks, somewhere about 1750, open seats 
and not square pews were erected, and these, I believe, are 
still in use. They formerly faced each other, but are now 
turned the other way. And similarly at Quedgeley, Glou- 
cestershire, in the early part of this century, there were 
only two pews in the church ; and these were evidently 
late innovations, the rest were the same low oak benches 
which are there now. Of course numerous instances could 
be given similar to these, but it was necessary to draw 
attention to the fact. 

A correspondent whose letter appeared in Notes and 
Queries, February 2, 1865, mentions a Puritan pew in Long 
Melford Church, Suffolk, " entirely covered in." Upon this 
Mr. Benjamin Ferrey, F.S. A., stated that there was another 
pew of the kind in the church of Langley Marsh, Bucks. 


It is on the north side, separated from the nave by a 
wooden lattice-work. The pew communicates with a small 
library of books on divinity, to which the occupant of the 
pew might retire without being noticed from the body of 
the church. 

I am afraid that this description of the " pew " at Langley 
Marsh is calculated to be misleading. The church was 
built by the Kidderminsters, one of whom, Sir John Kidder- 
minster, left a library of divinity for public use, which is- 
deposited in the church. The space partitioned off is, I 
believe, not really a "pew" in the sense in which we 
generally employ the word, but merely a small room into 
which those who used the library might go and consult the 

Mr. Thomas E. Winnington states that a pew, somewhat 
similar to the one described above, is extant in the small 
church of Shelsley Walsh, in the valley of the Teme. It is 
inclosed with richly carved woodwork to the height of the 
rood screen, to which it is adjacent on the south side of the 
small nave. 

Perhaps the following note may not improperly come in 
now that we are considering the question of seats in church. 

Dr. Jebb informs us that within the present century the 
space in front of the organ loft at Christ Church, Dublin, 
was appropriated to the verse singers of the anthem, who 
on Sunday mornings came up to the loft for this purpose 
only, having occupied their proper places in the choir dur- 
ing the rest of the service. This, he adds, was the old. 
practice at the Chapel Royal in London, and at St. 
Patrick's. 1 

Advocates of the "Free and Open" principles in our 
churches will scarcely read the next paragraph with satis- 
faction. It, however, relates to such a curious usage that I 
cannot possibly omit it. 

1 Ecchsiologist, October, 1862. 


The following is, or was, the system pursued at Bury St. 
Edmunds, in the election for pews. Every ratepayer has a 
vote, and when a vacancy occurs by death or other cause, 
printed cards are issued by the new candidates requesting 
the favour of votes. Public-houses have been opened, and 
bribes offered to the poor to ensure success. Sometimes a 
coalition takes place between two candidates, who share 
the pew in case of success. On the day of the poll it is 
often found necessary to adjourn from the vestry to the 
Guild Hall to decide the election, the number of voters bein^ 
so great. During late repairs or enlargement of acconimoda- 
tion at St. James' Church, in the town, all applicants for 
pews were expected to deposit " something handsome " in 
the hands of the lecturer towards the expenses. 1 

A very curious arrangement of the font in the church of 
Milton, near Cambridge, is recorded by Mr. Morris Deck. 
" It is," he says, " built into the north pier of the chancel 
arch, and from the appearance of the masonry, etc., this is* 
evidently theoriginal position. I have," he continues, "visited 
some hundreds of churches, and this is the only instance I 
have observed of a font in this position. Numerous in- 
stances occur where it is built into the south-western pier 
of the nave." 

It would be difficult to enumerate the various abomina- 
tions which have taken place in our cathedrals in order to 
make room for monuments, often very hideous in them- 
selves, of noted men who have departed. Mr. Abbey, 
quoting from the Gentleman's Magazine, notes how, in 
1799, Carter recorded with indignation that in Westminster 
Abbey the font had been altogether removed to make place 
for some new monument, and was lying topsy turvy in a 
side room. 

Scandals and evil customs die hard. We should at the 
1 Kcclesivlogist, February, 1843. 


present day probably have to visit a good many churches 
before we came upon one in which a common basin was 
used for baptism instead of the font itself. Fifty years 
ago, however, this was by no means uncommon in parishes 
wherein a Puritan incumbent bore sway. It would seem 
that the custom was introduced by the Protestant party in 
Elizabeth's reign, for we have Archbishop Parker writing 
to Lord Burleigh on Nov. 15, 1573, thus : — " I have been of 
late shamefully deceived by some young men, and so have 
I been by some older men. Experience doth teach. The 
world is much given to innovations, never content to stay to 
live well. In London our fonts must go down, and the 
brazen eagles which were ornaments in the chancel, and 
made for lectures, must be molten to make pots and basins 
for new fonts." 

The object of these wretched fanatics was quite clear. 
They hated the sacramental system of the Church, and as 
they endeavoured, so far as they could, to degrade the altar, 
because it spake to the people of the mystery of the Holy 
Eucharist, so they would try their best, by using basins in- 
stead of the old fonts, to degrade the sacrament of regenera- 
tion. In some cases they were able to get rid of the fonts 
altogether, and many of the old ones were destroyed. The 
usual way, however, was to put basins into the fonts. 
That this was a very common practice is evident from the 
fact that in the injunctions of Elizabeth, Oct. 10, 1561, 
we read : — "Item, that the font be not removed from the 
accustomed place ; and that in Parryshe Churches the 
curates take not uppon them to confer baptism in basins, 
but in the font customably used." 

Unfortunately, irreverence was not confined to the 
Puritans of olden time, and there are few of us who could 
not mention from their own personal observation many 
instances of utter disregard for holy places and things as 
shown by English churchmen even at the present time. 


The subject is far from a pleasant one to dwell upon, and I 
will only mention one instance mentioned by a writer in the 
Ecclesiologist in April, 1846. He tells us that at East 
Shefford, Berks, the singers and musicians sit round the 
altar, and use it as a table. It stands a little way off the 
east wall, and has seats behind and at the ends for their 
convenience. It is difficult to imagine how any clergyman 
could have tolerated such a state of things. 

We now come to the question of chancel screens as 
portions of the post-Reformation furniture in our churches.. 
Thus there are such screens in St. Mary-le-bow, and St. Os- 
wells, Durham, and in the former also returned stalls. Po^t- 
Reformation screens may also be seen in the churches at 
Billingham, Brancepeth, Sedgetield, Essington, Sherburn 
Hospital Chapel, and at various other places. 

On the screen of the church of St. Nicholas, Chislelrarst. 
(writes the Rev. F. H. Murray, the rector), for about two 
hundred years, from the Restoration probably, till 1849, 
were these words: "The lion roretb, his strength is an 
unicorn," with reference to the royal arms, which were 
formerly over the east window. 

Eagles placed in the sanctuary, whence the Epistle and 
Gospel were read, are very unusual, nevertheless two such 
miglit be seen in St. Peter's, the parish church of Liverpool. 
At Exeter and Canterbury Cathedrals the eagle desks face 
east, and one is used for the Litany. 1 

History repeats itself. In 1735, a painting of our Lady 
and the Holy Child was placed over the altar of St. James' 
Church, Clerkenwell. One Thomas Watson wrote to the 
Bishop of London very much in the style of a modern 
" Church Associationist," ignoring all forms of law, and 
demanding its removal, it being, as he said, " in my judg- 

1 Ecclesiologist, 1849 and 1842. 


Tiient a reproach to Protestantism, and very near ally'd to 
images." 1 

Movable organs and pulpits in churches have not been 
altogether unknown of late years. The Rev. Dr. Sparrow- 
Simpson, F.S.A., notes that in a pamphlet entitled, " The 
Temple Church : an Account of its Restoration and Re- 
pairs," by William Burge, published by Pickering in 1843, 
is the following passage : — " Mr. Etty justly observes that 
an St. Peter's, at the present day, the organ is very small 
■compared with the building, and is wheeled about like the 
ancient pulpits to different parts of the church '' (p. 34). 
Dr. Simpson adds, that King's College Chapel had two in 
bis time, which were moved into the choir if required. The 
following appears in Wesley's Journal (August 15, 1781). 
iSpeaking of the Shrewsbury Hospital as it existed in his 
•day Wesley says : — " The pulpit is movable ; it rolls upon 
wheels, and is shifted once a quarter, that all the pews may 
face it in their turns ; I presume the first contrivance of 
the kind in Europe." There is, I have heard, a movable 
pulpit in Norwich Cathedral. 

In accordance with, or more strictly speaking, as a 
development of the injunction in Canon 80, which ordered 
that a Bible of the largest volume, the Books of Homilies 
allowed by authority, and the Book of Common Prayer, 
were to be provided for every church, we find still remain- 
ing in many churches books chained to desks for people to 
come and read them if they pleased. Of course their use is 
wholly obsolete. A more ludicrous idea could scarcely be 
■conceived than to suppose that a countryman would go 
into the parish church after his work, or on a Sunday 
afternoon, to read " Jewel's Apology," or " Foxe's Book of 
Martyrs," perhaps in black letter. Some person, however, 

i Gentleman's Magazine (1735), pp. 651, 666. Wood-cut of picture 
given in same vol., p 679. 


appears to have been interested in the chained books at 
Bridlington, Yorkshire, some half century ago, and to have 
gone to the church to examine them, for the silver mount- 
ings which adorned the binding disappeared, and have 
never been seen or heard of since. 

I mentioned above the church library at Langley in 
Buckinghamshire ; there ^s also a very curious old library 
in a chamber — over the vestry, I think — in Wimborne 
Minster, where the books are chained to the shelves. This 
collection consists of two hundred and forty volumes. The 
chains have not saved it from the dishonest spoiler, for 
twenty-five volumes are missing of those which were 
Catalogued in 1765, and many of those which remain have 
fallen, from want of care, into a state of decay. 

To give some sort of idea as to the kind of literature 
which was in olden time provided in many of our country 
churches for the edification of those who could not afford to 
buy books for themselves, I may mention a few, and I 
purposely take them in the main from parts of the king- 
dom widely separated from one another. The instances 
cited are, I think, fairly representative. 

Impington, Cambridgeshire | " Foxe's Book of Martyrs." Black 

[ A collection of cases, and other dis- 
St. Nicholas, Rochester ... < courses to recover Dissenters to the 

( Church of England. 

i Several books, especially " Foxe's 
Book of Martyrs," and the "Clavis 
Bibliorum of F. Roberts, who was 
rector of the parish in 1675. 

Malvern Abbey Church, ( De * n Comber's » Companion to the 

Worcestershire ...... j Temple," and " A Treahse on Church 

Foxe's Book of Martyrs," and 
"Jewel's Apology," b 
letter. Also " Preserv 
Popery," 2 vols., 1738. 

Leyland, Lancashire ) !' Jewel's Apology," both in black 

" ' ) letter. Also Preservative against 



St. Benet's, Grace Church, 
St., London 

Kinver, Worcestershire ... 

Clew Magna, Somerset ... 
Longdon, Tewkesbury 

Bridlington, Yorkshire . . . 


Ecclesfleld, Yorkshire 

Little Stanmore, Middlesex 

( Erasmu's " Commentary on the Gos- 
< pels," with chains attached, in 
( possession of the churchwardens. 
" Whole Duty of Man ; " " Foxe's 
Book of Martyrs;" ''Jewel's Ser- 
mon," in Latin. 

" Jewel's Defence of the Church.'' 

Jewel's Works, folio — in parish chest. 

( Hooker's "Ecclesiastical Polity," "Jew- 
1 el's Controversial Works," Heylin's- 
) " Ecclesia Vjndicata," and Comber's 
( "Companion to the Temple." 

Jewel's Sermon on 1 Cor. ix. 16 (1609). 

( Thirteen books " chayned in the 
) church," April 25, 1606. "Patris- 
~) tic and Mediaeval Commentaries " 
' for the most part — Latin, of course. 

Many of the prayer books given by the 
Duke of Chandos are said, by Mr. 
Sperling in his " Walks about 
Middlesex " (p. 104), to still remain 
chained to the pews for the use of 
the poorer parishioners. 

From our modern point of view, these (with the excep- 
tion of the last) seem to be scarcely the kind of hooks 
likely to attract the' general public. I should, however, be 
bitterly sorry to have them removed from our churches. 
Like the churches themselves, when rightly regarded, they 
serve as a chapter in old English Church History, and as 
such their loss would be very much to be lamented. 

We now come to a very curious piece of church furni- 
ture which has fortunately been preserved in many places 
as a relic of the past ; it is the hour-glass in the pulpit. 

Although the church of St. Alban, Wood Street, in the 
city of London, has been "restored," which too often 
means having all the history taken out of it, the late rector, 
the Rev. H. J. Cummins, told me that Sir Gilbert Scott had 
left the old hour-glass, and that it is still to be seen at the 
side of the pulpit. The old church of St. Alban was one 


of the eighty-nine churches which were destroyed by the 
fire of London in 1666. This church was rebuilt by Sir 
Christopher Wren, and finished in 1685. Consequently a 
pulpit hour-glass was in use subsequent to that date. 

In the churchwardens' accounts in the parish of St. 
Helen, Abingdon, Berkshire, is the following entry : — 
" Anno mdxcl, 34 Eliz. Payde for an hour-glasse for the 
pulpit, 4d." 

Under the year 1564 the following entry occurs in the 
books of Christ Church, Sfc. Katharine's, Aldgate : — " Paide 
for an hour-glass that hangeth by the pulpit when the 
preacher doth make a sermon, that he may know how the 
hour passeth away." 

A question arises in reference to this extract. Is the 
word " hour " to be understood as being synonymous with 
" time,'' or was it taken for granted that the people ex- 
pected the preacher to go on for an hour, and that the 
proper thing was for him to close his discourse as soon as 
the sand in the upper portion of the glass had run out ? 

Not a few persons in most congregations now-a-days 
would be thankful if a quarter-of-an-hour-glass were affixed 
to the pulpit of the church which they attend, and made a 
fixture, so that the preacher could not turn it, as the 
Puritan did, saying, " Brethren, let's have another glass 
before we part." 

The parishioners of Bibury would seem to have been 
exceptionally unfortunate in their vicar, for Fosbrooke 
mentions an incumbent there, whom he incorrectly (I 
think) terms *' rector," who used to preach for two hours, 
regularly turning his glass. The squire of the parish ap- 
pears to have adapted himself to circumstances, for after 
the text had been given out he left the church, " smoaked " 
his pipe, and returned for the blessing. 1 

The same author tells us that the priest had sometimes 

1 "British Monachism," p. 286. 



a, watch supplied to him by the parish. The authority 
cited for this is the following entry in the accounts of the 
chantry-wardens of a parish in Surrey :— " Received for 
priest's watch after he was dead, 13s. 4d." 1 

The Cambridge Camden Society in "A Few Hints on 
the Practical Study of Ecclesiastical Antiquities," has the 
following : — " Hour-glass stand ; a relick of Puritanick 
times. They are not very uncommon. They generally 
stand on the right hand of the pulpit, and are made of 
iron. Examples— Coton ; Shepreth. A curious revolving 
one occurs at Stoke dAbernon, Surrey, and in St. John's 
Baptist, Bristol, where the hour-glass itself remains. 
Though a Puritanick innovation it long kept its place, for 
Ga,y, in one of his Pastorals, writes : — 

" ' He said that Heaven would take her soul no doubt, 
And spoke the hour-glass her praise quite out.' 

It is depicted by the side of a pulpit in one of Hogarth's 

A contributor to Notes and Queries describes two hour- 
glass stands, the one at Pilton, near Barnstaple, the other 
at; Tawstock, North Devon. In the latter instance it is 
displaced, and lies with a quantity of fragments of old 
armour, banners, etc., in a room over the vestry. These 
stands are similar in form, each representing a man's arm 
cut out of sheet iron and gilded, the hand holding the 
stand. Turning on a hinge at the shoulder it lay flat on 
the panels of the pulpit when not in use. When extended 
it would project about a yard. 

It is worth while to give the following note from the pen 
of Dr. W. Sparrow Simpson, F.S.A., who, writing in 1854, 
stated that in the autumn of the previous year he saw an 

1 Manning's " Surrey," vol. i., p. 531. 


hour-glass stand still attached to the pulpit in the minster 
at Berne. 

In that curious place, the island of Axholme, in the 
north-west of Lincolnshire — an " island " as being sur- 
rounded by the rivers Trent, Don, etc. — there was, accord- 
ing to Mr. Edward Peacock, F.S.A., in 1853, when he 
visited the place, an iron hour-glass stand affixed to a 
pillar on the north side of Belton Church, which is in that 

About the middle of the present century there remained 
a portion of an hour-glass frame affixed to the pulpit of 
Shelsley Beauchamp Church in Worcestershire. When 
the church was " restored," as it is called, this little frag- 
ment of history was, of course, cleared away ; but was very 
wisely preserved as a relic by the Rev. D. Melville, the 

There is an hour-glass in the church of Cowden, Kent, 
which is comparatively perfect. The rector, Dr. Burton, 
F.S.A., tells me that the tradition is, that before the 
rector's death, it will be discovered to be broken. This 
actually took place in the case of the last two rectors. It 
is now restored to its place once more. 

Numerous other instances of pulpit hour-glasses, or at 
least their stands, still remaining, might be mentioned. 
Here are the names of a few of the churches, in addition to 
those already spoken of, in which they were to be seen 
forty years ago, but the destructive hand of the " restorer " 
may, for all I know, have swept them away. In Norfolk, 
at Wiggenhall, Edingford, Salhouse, and South Burling- 
ham ; in Worcestershire, at Bishampton ; in Northampton- 
shire, at Napington ; in Leicestershire, at Ashby Folville ; 
and in Berkshire, at Binfield. 

In Salhouse Church there is also remaining a curious 
relic in the shape of a bell on the screen between the nave 
and the chancel. 


To pass on to other matters. The Rev. Dr. Hardman, of 
Bristol, tells me that, in many of the churches in Cornwall, 
a large board may be seen on the walls containing a copy 
Of King Charles I.'s letter thanking the Cornish people for 
their loyalty. 

The following transcript of a notice which appeared on 
a church door in Devonshire brings to remembrance a 
curious old tax which was levied in the days of our fathers 
or grandfathers — the Window Tax. Various methods 
were adopted to avoid it, some of them being not very 
reputable. The warning given by the notice below does 
not seem quite the thing to post upon a church door, as it 
suggests with sufficient plainness that the people should do 
something to cheat the revenue. The paper was taken 
down from Chivelstone church door in 1825 by the Rev. C. 
Holdsworth, Vicar of Stokenham, and is preserved as a 
curious relic by A. F. Holdsworth, Esq. of Widdicombe 
House, South Devon. It runs as follows : — ■ 

" Whoever hath a mind to make any alteration in their 
windows are desired to due it to-morrow, as the Sessor 
intend to be about the day after, or Wednesday." 

Mr. George Tweddell, of Stokesby, tells me that, in 
the church of Asby de la Zouch, there are finger-stocks 
for the punishment of badly -behaved people, and, so far as 
he is aware, the only ones in existence. He writes : — " I 
put my ringers in to try it, and when it was closed down I 
was as fast as a prisoner could be made. The holes for the 
finger-ends are perpendicular, for the remainder of each 
finger horizontal, and thus, when the top portion of the 
stocks is fastened down there is no escape, as you cannot 
get the fingers straightened to draw them out." This im- 
plement is fastened to the wall under the west gallery. 

Some of the older amongst us remember the " stocks " 


proper being in use. They were, I think mostly employe 1 
in cases of drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and were 
always set up in some very public place, so that as many 
people as possible should see the culprit and take warning. 
I have, when a boy, oftentimes seen men in the stocks just 
outside the Police Office in Moor Street, Birmingham. I 
learn, from the Ecclesiologist of Feb. 1843, that at St. Ives 
in Cornwall, and at other places in that county, the parish 
stocks were placed and used in the church porch. 

Very odd things are sometimes preserved as relics in 
churches. For example, in Holy Trinity, Minories, in the 
city of London, may be seen in a glass case the head of the 
Duke of Suffolk, father of Lady Jane Grey. He was 
executed on Tower Hill, and it is evident that the heads- 
man made a bad shot the first time, and that the axe 
fell at the back of the skull, and could not sever the neck. 
The second blow lower down was more successful. The 
head is a ghastly object, and I do not recommend anybody 
to go and see it. 

In the Church Times of Feb. 27, 1880, the following 
letter appeared from Mr. J. W. Hatchett, of Lothian Road, 
North Brixton. It relates to what is commonly known 
as the " Branks " or " The Scold's Bridle." Those who pass 
along some of the lower class streets in London may some- 
times be sorry that it is not still in use. 

" The church vestry of Walton-on-Thames contains a 
bridle constructed of steel to fit the human head. It con- 
sists of flat steel bands forming a network over the head, 
face, and round the nose, with a flat piece going in the 
mouth and fixing the tongue. It padlocks behind. It 
bears this inscription : 

' Chester presents Walton with a bridle 
To curb women's tongues that talk idle.' 


There is also a date, and it is rusty vvitli age. Belonging 
to a neighbouring parish, I saw it when a boy, and tried 
it on. 

" I have heard two tales of its origination. (1) The man 
Chester, who lost considerable monies through the tongue 
of a female parishioner, presented it. (2) A woman apply- 
ing for relief, being asked her parish, replied Chester, where 
she was sent, as was the custom, but, finding it a false- 
hood, Chester returns her bridled to Walton." 

Most persons interested in antiquarian matters have 
heard of " Mother Ludlam's kettle," about the origin of 
which there has been a good deal of divergent speculation. 
Tradition says that in years gone by there was a witch 
named Mother Ludlam, who lived in a cave in the side of 
a hill overlooking the valley of Waverley, and a cauldron, 
which is said to have belonged to her, is still preserved in 
Frensham Church. The Rev. 0. C. S. Langr, Rector of 
Frensham, near Farnham, Surrey, has been good enough to 
send me the following description of the vessel. " The 
dimensions are as follows : — 32£ inches in diameter, 19| 
inches deep, hammered out of a single sheet of copper, 
having an iron rim to which it is riveted, with drop-ring 
handles. There is an iron stand belonging to it with three 
legs, which raises it about a foot from the ground. It is 
mentioned, I believe, in all the old histories of Surrey." 
Mr. Lang adds, " It is said that no one can use the cauldron 
without ill fortune, and certainly the only time that I 
attempted to do so I broke the glass vessel with which I 
was experimenting in the cauldron full of water." Mother 
Ludlam's kettle is now kept in the basement of the tower 
of Frensham Church. For further particulars and local tra- 
ditions, see Smith's " History of Farnham and Waverley 
Abbey," published in 1829. 



The customs which in the past were connected with holy- 
days and seasons were so numerous that it is difficult 
amongst the mass of material to know what to take and 
what to reject. It is also puzzling at times to distinguish 
those which really have a religious origin and others which 
seem to be purely secular. The border line between the 
two is often so faintly marked that it is no easy matter in 
these days to say where the one ends and the other begins. 
That which makes it the more puzzling is the fact that 
many of the customs which had, no doubt, a distinctly 
religious origin, have, in the course of years, become so 
secularised that their early history is lost in obscurity. In 
this volume it is no part of my design to investigate such 
matters critically, as I am writing for the instruction and 
amusement of the general public, and not for the edification 
of scientific antiquaries. These latter require a riper 
knowledge and an abler pen than mine. 

There appear to be scarcely any special usages connected 
with St. Andrew's Day (November 30th). Mr. Walcot, 
F.S.A., tells us, however, that when St. Paul's Walk was 
a fashionable place of meeting, there was a club of persons 
who used to assemble at the reputed tomb of Duke Hum- 
phery, on the morning of that day, and afterwards to dine 
together as if they were servants in his household. 1 

What the origin of the following usage can be I am un- 

1 Walcot's "Cathedrals," p. 82. 
2 'S 


able to suggest, but at Bozeat in Northamptonshire a bell 
is rung at noon on St. Andrew's Day, and the villagers 
call it " T Andrew Bell." They make and eat a kind of 
sweet toffee on that day. 

The old rule for finding the first Sunday in Advent ran 
thus : — 

" Saint Andrew the king, 
Three weeks and three days before Christmas comes in ; 
Three days after, or three days before, 
Advent Sunday knocks at the door." 

Mr. W. Chatterton Dix tells me that he remembers in his 
earlier days that at the church of St. Mary's, RedclifT, 
Bristol, it was the custom on Advent Sunday to place a few 
evergreens in the pulpit, desk, and churchwardens' pew. 
This was discontinued some twenty or more years ago. 

It was formerly the custom in the north of England for 
poor women to carry about during Advent a couple of 
dolls dressed, the one to represent the Saviour and the 
other the Virgin Mary. A halfpenny was expected from 
every person to whom they were exhibited. It was 
esteemed a sign of very bad luck to any household that 
had not been visited by the " Advent Images " before 
Christmas Eve at the latest. The bearers of the images 
sung the well-known carol, beginning: — 

" The first good joy that Mary had, it was the joy of one." 

In Yorkshire there was formerly a saying, " As unhappy 
as the man that has not seen the Advent Images." 1 Later 
on the reader will find a record of a somewhat similar 
custom still surviving in South Devon on May Day. 

Another name was given to the Advent Images custom. 
It was sometimes called going about with the " Vessel 
1 "Book of Days," vol. ii., p. 725. 


Cup," which, of course, was a corruption of " Wassail Cup," 
and denoted the good-will of the Image bearer towards 
those who gave her a present. The following verse was 
sometimes suds : — 

" God bless the master of this house, 
The mistress also, 
And all the little children 
That round the table go." 

The late Dr. J. M. Neale, in his " Essays on Liturgiology," 1 
remarks that it is curious that the season of Advent should 
have retained its Latin name everywhere. He adds that 
the Sundays were not always reckoned in the same way, 
the more usual method being to count the first as fourth, 
and that nearest Christmas as the first. 

St. Thomas' Day (December 21) was another occasion on 
which in many parts of the country the poor folk 
went round to the houses of their richer neighbours in the 
hope of getting the means of enjoying themselves at the 
■coming Christmas tide. In some places it was called 
"going a gooding." In certain districts the festival was 
called " Doleing Day," and in others " Mumping Day." 
" Mumping " is from a Dutch word, and one of its recog- 
nised meanings, according to old Wick Bailey, is to "beg." 
Those who are familiar with the Spectator may remember 
that in one of his essays, Addison uses the word thus : — 
" The mumpers, the halt, and the blind." In Warwick- 
shire, Chambers tells us that the custom which is being 
•described was called " going a corning," from the poor folk 
■carrying a bag, into which the farmers put corn. A con- 
tributor to Notes and Queries, in 1857, stated that the 
•custom of " gooding " then existed in full force in Stafford- 
shire, where all the poor folk went out on St. Thomas' Day 

1 P. 509. 


in quest of alms. The clergyman was expected to give a. 
shilling to each applicant, and all the well-to-do inhabitants, 
contributed something either in money or in kind. The 
same writer tells us that at Harrington in Worcestershire 
it is customary for the children to go round the village on 
St. Thomas' Day, begging for apples, and singing : — 

" Wassail, wassail, through the town, 

If you've got any apples, throw them down ; 
Up with the stocking and down with the shoe, 
If you've got no apples, money will do ; 
The jug is white and the ale is brown, 
This is the best house in the town." 

It appears that in former times those who received 
money or other gifts on these occasions recognised them by 
presenting to the donors sprigs of holly or mistletoe- 
Besides the usual donations received, it was not unusual for 
the women to be regaled at the houses of the squires and 
farmer with hot spiced ale, of which they frequently hadmore 
than they could conveniently carry away with them. It is- 
curious to notice how, in all ages and countries, eating and 
drinking almost always formed an item in religious or 
quasi-religious observances. 

The Rev. R. Noble Jackson has told me that on St. 
Thomas' Day at Winchcombe, the old people and children 
go from house to house begging for small sums of money. 
This they call " Thomasing." 

A host of old-world usages cluster round Christinas Eve 
and Christmas Day of course. Carols and carol singing, I 
think, ought to hold the first place. Perhaps the oddest 
sheet of carols ever printed is that mentioned by Hone in 
his " Every Day Book." It is headed, " Christus natus est.'' 
There is below a wood-cut ten inches high, and eight and a 
half inches wide, representing the stable at Bethlehem,. 
Christ in the crib, watched by His mother and St. Joseph,. 


shepherds kneeling, angels attending, a man playing on 
the bagpipes, a woman with a basket of fruit on her head, 
a sheep bleating, an ox lowing, a crow cawing on the bay- 
rack, a cock crowing above them, and angels singing in the 
sky. The creatures have labels in their mouths bearing 
Latin inscriptions. Down the side of the wood-cut is the 
following : — " A religious man, inventing the conceits of 
both birds and beasts drawn in the picture of our Saviour's 
birth, doth thus express them : The cock croweth, Ghristus 
natws est, Christ is born. The raven asketh, Quando ? 
When ? The crow replieth, Hoc node, This night. The 
ox crieth out, Ubil ubi? Where? where ? The sheep bleateth 
out, Bethlehem, Bethlehem. A voice from Heaven sounded, 
' Gloria in Excelsis ' — Glory be on high. London : 
printed and sold by J. Bradford in Little Briton, the corner 
house, over against the pump, 1701. Price one penny." 
Hone's book was published in 1826, and he speaks of the 
fondness of the Welsh for carols at that date. He adds 
that formerly the Welsh folk " had carols adapted to most 
of the church festivals, and to the four seasons of the year, 
but in our times they are limited to that of Christmas." 
And he states further that, after the turn of midnight on 
Christmas Eve, service is performed in the churches, fol- 
lowed by the singing of carols to the harp. 

There are two usages connected with Christmas Eve 
which, undoubtedly, have come down to us from heathen 
times. One of these is the well-known privilege connected 
with the misletoe. This plant, as everybody knows, was 
held in the greatest veneration by the Druids, especially 
when, as occasionally happened, it was found attached to 
the oak. The other is the burning of the Yule log. What 
is the derivation of " Yule " ? is a question much discussed, 
but without any really satisfactory result. The Yule log 
was, no doubt, originally burnt as a sacrifice to Odin or 
Wodin, the father of Thor, according to Scandinavian 


mythology. It was formerly the custom to put aside a 
partially burnt portion of the log, and to keep it till the 
following Christmas. Then the new log was lighted with 
remnants of the old one. Herrick refers to this when he 

sings : — 

" With the last year's brand 
Light the new block, and 

For good success on his spending, 
On your psalteries play, 
That sweet luck may 

Come while the log is a-teending." 

Chambers 1 tells us that in Devonshire an " Ashton fag- 
got '' takes the place of the Yule log. In Cornwall the 
Christmas log is known by the name of " Mock." 

A belief was long current in Devon and Cornwall, and 
perhaps still lingers both there and in other remote parts of 
the country, that at midnight on Christmas Eve the cattle 
in their stalls fall down on their knees in adoration of the 
infant Saviour, in the same manner as legend reports them 
to have done in the stable at Bethlehem. Bees are also 
said to sing in their hives at the same time, and bread 
baked on Christmas Eve was supposed never to become 
mouldy. All nature was believed to unite in celebrating 
the birth of Christ, and to partake in the general joy which 
the anniversary of the Nativity inspired. 

Hone, writing in the earlier part of the century, speaks 
of a curious custom in connection with carol singing which 
was, at that time, observed in the Isle of Thanet, and with 
which the Christmas festivities began. A party of young 
people procured the head of a dead horse, which was fixed 
to a pole about four feet in length. A string was tied to 
the lower jaw, and a horse-cloth was then attached to the 
whole, under which one of the party got, and, by pulling 
the string, kept up a loud snapping noise. The rest of the 
1 "Book of Days," ii., 736. 


party, grotesquely habited, rang hand-bells. They thus 
went from house to house sounding their bells and singing 
carols and songs. They were commonly gratified with beer 
and cake, or perhaps with money. This was provincially 
called a " hodening, and the figure above described as a 
" hoden," or wooden horse. It was supposed to be an 
ancient relic of a festival ordained to commemorate our 
Saxon ancestors landing in that island. ' 

A correspondent, whose letter appears in the same volume, 
states that, near the village of Kaleigh, there is a valley 
said to have been caused by an earthquake several hundred 
years ago, which swallowed up a whole village together 
with the church. Formerly it was the custom for people 
to assemble in this valley on Christmas Day morning to 
listen to the ringing of the bells beneath them. This, it. 
was positively asserted, might be heard by putting the ear 
to the ground and listening attentively. Even now (adds 
the writer) it is usual on Christmas morning for the old 
men and women to tell their young friends to go to the 
valley, stoop down, and hear the bells ring merrily. 2 

In his " Exeter Fifty Years Since," Mr. Cousins states 
that, at seven o'clock on Christmas Day, previous to morn- 
ing prayers, the tune to the Hundredth Psalm was played 
on the cathedral organ, the chorister boys singing the 
words in the minstrel gallery, which was provided with 
candles. Hundreds of people attended, but, in consequence 
of the unruly conduct of parties who had accompanied the 
various choirs during the night singing anthems and carols 
(which was very general then), the dean and chapter put a 
stop to the custom. 

At Hucknall Torkard in Nottinghamshire, until lately 
the children, who went about singing carols at Christmas, 
used to take with them a box in which was a doll decked 
1 " Every Day Book," vol. ii., p. 1643. 
a Ibid, p. 1650. 


•out. The custom had not been observed in other villages 
in the neighbourhood, at least in recent times. In the 
West Riding of Yorkshire the practice is very common. 1 

A contributor to Notes and Queries in 1873 says that, 
when he was a boy, the colliers at Llwynymaen, two miles 
from Oswestry, were in the habit, during the evening of 
Christmas week, of carrying from house to house in the 
town boards covered with clay, in which were stuck lighted 
candles. This was done at Christmas, not at Candlemas, 
and only by the colliers. This was probably an ancient 
usage, and intended to indicate the birth of the " Light of 
the World." 2 

The Cambrian Journal of September, 1857, and "Tales 
and Traditions of Tenby," supply me with the following 

On Christmas Day, at four o'clock in the morning, it was 
in past days customary at Tenby for the young men of the 
town to escort the rector with lighted torches from his house 
to the church. Extinguishing their torches in the porch, 
they went into the early service, and when it was ended the 
torches were re-lighted, and the procession returned to the 
rectory, the bells chiming till the time of the usual morning 
service. This custom in the Welsh districts is called Pylgain, 
•or Plygain, which means " The Morning Light." 

A lady at Swansea has informed me that at St. Peter's 
Church, Carmarthen, an early service used to be held on 
Christmas morning within the memory of persons now 
living. The church was lighted with coloured candles, 
carried thither on that occasion by the congregation. The 
early Christmas service was, I believe, held in many Welsh 
churches, but the name " Pylgain " which was given to it is 
now applied by the Welsh Wesleyans to their Watch Night 

1 Notes aibd Queries, December 22, 1877. 
- Ibid.,, December 13, 1873. 


It was the custom at St. Asaph, Caerwys, at a house with 
"which my informant was acquainted, for the fire to be 
made upon Christmas Eve, and a leg of beef to be put on to 
boil down for broth at eight o'clock. Then everybody 
went to bed, and rose at four or five to go to church for 
Plygain, which, in this instance, was the name given to 
carol singing. The clergyman sang the first carol (or, per- 
haps, the first verse of a carol) and the clerk the second. 
Then the carols were sung round the church in procession. 
This was over about seven. There were basins of hot broth 
for any who chose to come to the house in question — servants 
— their friends — and neighbours. This, my informant 
thinks, had been the usage in the house for a hundred years 
and more. 

The Rev. J. Moore of Minsterley, Salop, tells me that old 
people there can remember it a universal custom not to light 
a fire on Christmas Day, except with fire borrowed from a 
neighbour's house. 

About 1835, died the Rev. George Alderson, who had been 
for nearly sixty years rector of the out-of-the-way village 
of Birkin, Ferrybridge, Yorkshire. In his days it was the 
custom for the clerk to present the rector with a nosegay of 
flowers before the beginning of the morning service on 
Christmas Day. This nosegay the rector carried with him 
wherever he went, to desk, pulpit, or altar, during the 
service. It was a difficult matter, of course, to get flowers 
at that time of year, but the clerk always got enough to 
make a good bunch. 

Until the last twenty or thirty years it was the custom 
for the choir to sing anthems and carols on the top of the 
church tower at Crondall, Hants. Mr. S. Cranstone, parish 
clerk, tells me that this was an old custom in the days of 
his grandfather. 

Of customs connected with St. Stephen's T)a.y (January 
26) I can find very little record. In the north of England 


it was known as "Wrenniug Day," from the custom of 
stoning a wren to death in cruel commemoration of St. 
Stephen's martyrdom. 

Holy Innocent's Day (January 28), also called "Childermas 
Day,' ; has always had a veil of sorrow over it. In many 
places in olden time the Gloria in Excelsis was not used, 
nor the Te Deum, nor the Gloria Patri. The church 
colour was formerly black or violet. A trace of this still 
survives, or till recently did survive, in the custom of ring- 
ing a muffled peal on that day at Leigh-upon-Mendip, and 
at several other places which might be mentioned. Until a 
very recent period, remarks Dr. Neale, not only the day 
itself, but the same day in every week of the succeeding year, 
was considered highly unlucky. So the Spectator tells us 
of his superstitious hostess: — "As they began to talk of 
famity affairs, a little boy at the lower end of the table told 
her that he was to go in to 'join hand' on Thursday. 
'Thursday,' says she ; ' no, child, if it pleases God, you shall 
not begin on Childermas Day. Tell your writing master 
that Friday will be soon enough.' " 

It is said that the idea of the inauspicious nature of 
Childermas Day is still retained in some parts of England. 
Thus in Cornwall, housewives scrupulously refrain from 
scouring or scrubbing on December 28. 

Very little account seems to have been taken in time past 
of the Festival of the Circumcision (January 1). The fact 
of its being coincident with New Year's Day has thrown it 
into obscurity. Apart from the wassailing with which the 
New Year was always ushered in by our forefathers, there 
is little or nothing to be noticed in connection with this 
Festival. It is not, I believe, unusual to ring a muffled peal 
on the death of the old year, and to remove the mufflers at 
midnight so as to salute the birth of the new year in joyous 
fashion. The Vicar of East Dereham, Norfolk, has told me 
that this is an old custom in his parish. 


Almost the only distinctly religious ceremony connected 
with the Festival of the Epiphany was the offering on that 
day, by the Monarch, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in 
imitation of the Magi. The form which this ceremony took 
a century ago was as follows: — The King, preceded by 
heralds, pursuivants, and the Knights of the Garter, Thistle, 
and Bath, in the collars of their respective Orders, went to 
the Royal Chapel of St. James, and offered gold, myrrh, and 
frankincense. Since the illness of George III., the proces- 
sion, and even the personal appearance of the Monarch, 
have been discontinued. Two gentlemen from the Lord 
Chamberlain's office now appear instead, attended by one 
carrying a box ornamented at the top with a spangled star, 
from which they take the gifts above mentioned, and place 
them on an alms dish held forth by the officiating priest. 

It was formerly the custom of the Lord Mayor, Alder- 
men, and the London Guilds to go to St. Paul's on Twelfth 
Day to hear a sermon. This was spoken of as an old 
custom in Queen Elizabeth's reign. When it was given up, 
and why, I am unable to discover. 

A gentleman living in the neighbourhood has told me 
that at Aid borough, near Boroughbridge, in the West 
Riding, the Parish Feast is held on the Festival of the 
Epiphany. The ceremonial is peculiai-. A number of 
villagers, farm labourers, etc., dress in an eccentric manner 
as shepherds, and parade the parish every here and there, 
executing quaint dances to the music of a concertina or a 
riddle. They are preceded by a horn-blower, who, at 
intervals, sounds his instrument. Formerly they carried 
a doll dressed up in a fantastic way, and this, no doubt, 
was a relic of the Roman " Bambino." They also, until a 
few years ago, used to mount a set of stone steps which 
still exist on the village green. Then the best speaker 
among them called out the name of every man resident in 
Aldborough, proclaiming his besetting weakness, and 


according to his popularity or otherwise, bestowing upon 
him a fanciful nickname. This became so very objection- 
able that the late Lord of the Manor put a stop to it. The 
quasi-shepherds still perambulate the parish with the horn 
and fiddle. The custom is one of great antiquity, and its 
origin is lost in obscurity, though it is quite evident that it 
was based upon a religious idea. 

At Padstow in Cornwall it was, the custom, so late as 
1859, for the rustics to set up a pitcher at a convenient 
distance on the eve of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 
25) and to throw stones at it. It was called "Paul's 
Pitcher Day." The pitcher was pelted until it was entirely 
demolished. Of course jollification and drinking succeeded 
the stone-throwing. 

Evidently this custom was in commemoration of the part 
which St. Paul took in the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and 
the fact that it was observed on the eve of the Festival, 
and not on the day itself, gives it a special signifi- 

It must be left for weather-wise folk to judge of the truth 
of the remark of a Huntingdonshire rustic — "We shall have 
a fine spring because St. Paul's Day is fine.'' He was re- 
ferring to the old adage : — 

" If St. Paul be fair and clear, 
Then betides a happy year.'' 

On the eve of Candlemas (February 2) it was formerly 
the custom in Nottinghamshire to decorate both the 
churches and the houses with branches of box, and to light 
up a number of candles in the evening, as being the last 
day of the Christmas rejoicing. There is still a well-known 
saying : — 

" On Candlemas Day 
Throw candles away.'' 


In connection with this Festival the old Latin proverb is 
well known : — 

" Si Sol splendescat Maria purificante, 
Major erit glaoies post festum quam fuit ante.'' 

A writer in the " County Almanac " for 1676, under 
"February," has turned the saying into English on this 
wise : — 

" Foul weather is no news ; hail, rain, and snow 
Are now expected, and esteemed no woe ; 
Nay, 'tis an omen bad, the yeomen say, 
If Phoebus shows his face the second day." 

It is said that in Cumberland the Festival of the Purifica- 
tion is known as " Coat-lap day." To the meaning of this 
I can give no clue. 

In years gone by, Candlemas was specially observed at 
the Temple Church and at Eipon. Mr. Walcot says that so 
late as 1790, on the Sunday before Candlemas Day, the 
Collegiate Church was one continued blaze of light all the 
afternoon, a vast number of candles being lighted, 

We now come to Shrove Tuesday, and it is noticeable 
that in England it carries with it its distinctively religious 
name — i.e. the Tuesday for confession or shriving, as a 
preparation for the coming Lenten fast. This is the more 
striking when it is contrasted with the popular name given 
to the day in the three leading Roman Catholic countries 
on the Continent, Italy, Spain, and France. In each case 
the name by which it is commonly known has simply re- 
ference to the Carnival. The term Mardi gras is familiar to 
everybody. Strangely enough in Protestant Germany the 
day is commonly known as Fastendienstag, or Fast 
Tuesday — i.e., I suppose, the Tuesday before the Fast. 

We cannot, however, be surprised that most of the 


customs which are connected with Shrove Tuesday should 
relate to its carnival character, and everybody recognises 
what is meant when they hear " pancake day " spoken of. 
But there are one or two Shrovetide usages which are not 
so familiar to the general public. 

At Wellington in Shropshire there was, and perhaps still 
is, a custom for the children on Shrove Tuesday to meet in 
the churchyard and blow trumpets. These all joined hands 
and formed a ring round the outside of the church, and the 
trumpets were again blown. 1 A similar custom was 
followed, I believe, at Beckington, Somersetshire, not many 
years ago. More details relating to this curious usage have 
been given in an earlier part of this volume, 2 under the 
heading of " Clipping the Church." 

A former vicar of Kirby Grinderlyth, Yorkshire, has 
told me that, in his part of the East Riding, Shrove 
Tuesday is called " Ball Day," and the school-children 
expect a half-holiday on purpose to play at ball. 

There is another odd name given to the day. It is said 
that at Eccleshall in Staffordshire Shrove Tuesday is called 
" Goodtet." It has been suggested that the word is a cor- 
ruption of "Good Tide," i.e. holyday or festival. In 
" Halliwell's Archaeological Dictionary " it is stated that the 
term " Good-day '' is used in Staffordshire to signify a holy- 
day, and in the nortli " Gooddit " represents Shrovetide. 
In some places Shrove Tuesday is called " Goodies Tues- 
day," and " Good-time " is the common term to indicate a 
festival. 3 

The following is a fair specimen of a very widely spread 
usage on the morning of the day immediately preceding 
Lent — that of poor people or their children going from house 

1 Notes mid Queries, March 18, and April 15, 1876 

2 P. 19. 

3 Notes and Queries, April 20, and May 18, 1850. 


to house in their parishes, begging for contributions towards 
the customary feast or carnival. 

It is, I believe, a traditional custom in the Isle of Wight 
for the children to go round their respective parishes on 
the morning of Shrove Tuesday, singing : — 

" Shroving, sh'roving, I am come a-shroving ; 
White bread and apple pie, 
My mouth is very dry, 
I wish I were well awet, 
As I could sing for a nut. 

" Shroving, shroving, I am come a-shroving, 
A piece of bread, a piece of cheese, 
A piece of your fat bacon ; 
Dough nuts and pancakes, 
All your own making. 
Shroving, shroving," etc. 

We now come to Lent, and there are more indications 
that it was religiously observed by our forefathers than is 
generally supposed. During the reign of Elizabeth steps 
were taken officially to secure the fulfilment of the Church's 
rule of fasting. From Strype's " Annals " we learn that in 
1560 a proclamation was put out at the beginning of Lent, 
that any butcher who killed animals for food during the 
season should be fined £20 for each time that he did so. 
Heylin, in his " Historj' of the Reformation," written dur- 
ing this reign, speaks of the weekly fasts, the Embering 
weeks, together with the Fast of the Rogation, as being 
" severely kept " by a forbearance of all kind of flesh. He 
is careful to point out that this was not by virtue of 
• the statute, as in the time of King Edward, but as ap- 
pointed by the Church in her public Calendar before the 
Book of Common Prayer. The Queen seems to have been 
very strict in the matter of Lenten observance, and the 
people would be pretty sure to follow her lead. Of herseL 


we are told that she appointed some of the most noted of 
the clergy to preach before her on the Wednesdays, Fridays, 
and Saturdays during Lent, and that she always wore 
black when she went to hear them, " according to the com- 
mendable custom of her predecessors." 

With a rule so rigid as that noticed above, it was 
necessary, from charitable considerations, to make certain 
exceptions in favour of the aged and infirm; and such 
exceptions prove the rule. Strype, in his life of Parker, 
states that certain dispensations were granted upon reason- 
able causes. Thus he cites the case of John Foxe, the 
martyrologist, a spare, sickly man, whom the Archbishop 
permitted to eat meat in Lent because of his " bad stomach." 
Applications for dispensation had to be made, accompanied 
by a physician's certificate. If the doctors were not more 
worthy of credit than the " martyrologist," such certificates 
could not have been worth much. We are, however, told 
that the Primate refused more of these applications than 
he accepted, which showed that he had no great faith in 
the vouchers. 

Archbishop Whitgift (1601), again, was very strict in 
this matter of Lent, but, in consideration for sick and in- 
firm persons, a few butchers had license to kill beasts for 
meat during the annual fast ; but the permission extended 
only to such meat as was fitted for sickly persons to eat. 
Of course the butchers took liberties, and exceeded the 
terms of the archiepiscopal permission, and they were 
threatened with trouble about it with the Mayor of Canter- 

It was but natural that the strictness of Lenten observ- 
ance, as it existed in Queen Elizabeth's reign, should, as 
time went on, become relaxed. There was, however, a good 
deal of earnestness among the better class of the clergy in 
favour of Lenten abstinence during the reigns of William 
and Anne. John Wesley, for instance, was strong upon 


the matter, for whatever his modern so-called followers 
may say, he sympathised with High Churchmanship, and 
was most anxious that the Church's rules should be carried 

Mr. Abbey calls attention to a paper of Steele's in the 
Guardian, especially addressed, in Lent, 1713, to careless 
men of pleasure, and begs them not to ridicule a season set 
apart for humiliation. Even during the dark days of 
the last century, a certain respect was shown to Lent as a 
specially solemn time. Mr. Walcot tells us that, at Roches- 
ter Cathedral, " the choir was silent on Litany days in 
Lent ; " and even people of fashion, though they perhaps 
would not entirely forego their pleasures during the sacred 
season, paid a certain respect to it by wearing mourning 
when they went to the theatre, and the ordinary levities of 
society were distinctly toned down. In the earlier part of 
the present century it was considered the correct thing for 
ladies, during the forty days, to put on a more sombre garb 
than they usually wore. Mr. Chatterton Dix tells me that, 
until late years, the churches in Bristol were hung with 
black during Lent, and that the Cathedral has been similarly 
treated since its restoration. At York Minster the choir- 
boys wore black gowns instead of surplices during Advent 
and Lent ; and a writer in Notes and Queries of April 20, 
1872, stated that, fifty years previous to that date, it was 
the custom for the " Protestant Episcopal " clergymen in 
Philadelphia to lay aside the surplice, and to assume the 
black gown for prayers as well as for preaching. 

Mid-Lent, or the fourth Sunday in Lent, has for long 
been known as " Mothering Sunday." This name arose 
from the practice of young people, after they had left home 
for service, getting a holyday in the middle of Lent in order 
to pay a visit to their parents. They generally took with 
them some small gift or trifling delicacy. Amongst these 
latter a favourite one was a "Simnel Cake," which in ap- 


pearance was something like a raised pork pie, and it had 
in it a mixture of rich materials, after the nature of a plum 
cake. Concerning these Herrick sings : — 

" I'll to thee a Simnel bring, 

'Gainst thou go a'mothering ; 
So that when she blesses thee, 
Half that blessing thou'lt give me." 

These simnels were chiefly used in Herefordshire and 
Shropshire, I believe. The meaning of the word " Simnel " 
has been much disputed. In Gloucestershire " Mothering 
Cakes " are still common. At Cheltenham they were, and 
perhaps still are, made something after the fashion of 

" Fig-pie Wake " is kept at Draycott-le-Moors in Stafford- 
shire on Mid-Lent Sunday. The pies are made of dried 
figs, sugar, treacle, spice, etc. They are rather luscious for 
those who are not to the manner born. On this Sunday 
the friends of the parishioners come to visit them, and to 
eat the fig-pies. In parts of Oxfordshire figs are eaten on 
Palm Sunday in remembrance, it may be, of the fig-tree 
without fruit which was cursed for its barrenness. It is 
believed that this custom dates from the times when the 
Church did not allow meat to be eaten, even on the Sun- 
days in Lent, and fig-pies were served up as the richest 
food available 

At Usk in Monmouthshire the custom of " Mothei'ing " 
on Mid-Lent Sunday is so scrupulously observed that the 
aspect of the congregation on that day is, the vicar tells 
me, very curious, as so many familiar faces are absent, and 
so many strange faces take their place. 

In the north, more particularly in Cumberland, Passion 
Sunday, or the fifth Sunday in Lent, is called " Carling 
Sunday ,' ; from the custom of having a sort of pea, called a 


"" Carling Nut," steeped and fried in butter. A kind of 
pancake is made of these, and is eaten with pepper and salt. 
The children are accustomed to count the Sundays from 
the fourth Sunday in Lent to Easter by the following 
■couplet : — 

' ' Tid-Mid, Misera, 

Carlings, Palms, Pace Egg Day." 

" Tid-niid " means, I presume, mid-tide, or the middle of 
Lent, and " Pace Egg," of course, signifies Easter. 

I am told that it is esteemed the correct thing to eat 
carlings between meals, and to let the children have some 
•of the dry nuts to play with on Carling Sunday. 

There was a very curious custom observed on Palm Sun- 
day at Sellack Church, Herefordshire, within the last 
hundred years. On that day one of the churchwardens 
came round and presented to the clergyman first, and then 
to each member of the congregation in his seat, a small 
bun, and his son followed immediately after him with a 
horn of cider for each person. At the presentation of each 
the words "Peace and good neighbourhood" were said, 
and the bun and cider were then consumed by each person 
before leaving the church. 

The Caistor " Gad-whip " custom has been so often de- 
scribed that any mention of it would seem almost super- 
fluous. However, it would not be right to omit it entirely 
when dealing with Palm Sunday usages. 

Briefly put, it may be described as follows : — Every 
Palm Sunday a man, representing the proprietor of the 
Broughton estate, comes into Caistor Church porch while 
the First Lesson is being read and cracks what is called a 
" Gad-whip " three times. He then enters the church, and 
takes his place there among the congregation. During the 
-Second Lesson he goes up to the clergyman holding the 
whip upright. Tied to it is a bag containing thirty pieces 


of silver. He then kneels down before the clergyman, and 
waves the whip three times round his head, and continues- 
kneeling till the end of the Lesson. He then retires. 

These are the terms upon which the Broughton property 
is held. The thirty pieces of silver, of course, have refer- 
ence to the sum of money for which Judas betrayed our 
Lord. I must refer my readers to the many descriptions 
of this curious custom, which have been published, for an 
explanation of the ceremony. 

Near Avebury in Wiltshire is a mound called Silbury 
Hill. It is an old custom for the people to climb this hill 
on Palm Sunday to eat fig cakes and drink sugar and 
water, the latter brought from the Swallow Head, or spring 
of the river below. 1 

At St. Julian's, Shrewsbury, it was formerly the custom 
to use simply muscadine wine for the Holy Communion 
on all days except Palm Sunday, on which occasion a. 
" pottle of claret " was used, in addition to the muscadine. 
This information is extracted from the churchwarden's 
accounts of that parish in 1622. 2 No doubt this mixture 
was intended to symbolise the draught of wine mingled 
with vinegar, which was offered to our Blessed Lord at the 

A late incumbent of Minsterley, Salop, told me that on 
Palm Sunday, fifty or sixty years ago, the people used to 
turn out to Pontesford Hill, a prominent eminence in that 
part, for the purpose of finding the golden arrow. I have 
no clue to the meaning of this. At Minsterley, Palm Sun- 
day has always been marked by the church being decorated 
with willow branches. These, I presume, were supposed 
to be the nearest approach to palms which could be ob- 

In various parts of the county of Durham it was the 

1 Notes and Queries, March 31, 1877. 
"Ibid., October 13, 1883. 


custom within living memory for tbe people to make 
willow crosses for Palm Sunday. The early catkins were 
made to form the extremities of the aims of the cross. 
They were tied with blue or pink ribbon, with bows here 
and there, and were often very tasteful and pretty. 

At Winchester and in the neighbourhood there is, or was, 
an idea that from whatever quarter the wind blows on 
Palm Sunday, it will continue to blow from that same 
quarter (for the most part) during the year. 1 

Kendal would not seem to be exactly the place for any- 
one to choose if he wished to spend a quiet Maundy Thurs- 
day. It is customary there, as I am told, for parties of 
half a dozen or so little boys and girls to get each an 
old tin can, and to tie a string to it. One of each group 
starts off with it at a good pace trailing the can after him, 
and the others run behind striking the can with sticks, 
and singing, — 

' ' Trot liearen, trot horn, 
Good Friday, la morn," 

whatever that may mean. They continue this until the 
can is knocked to pieces. 

The distinctive ceremonial, peculiar to Maundy Thurs- 
day, was that of people of exalted social position humbling 
themselves, as was supposed, by washing the feet of poor 
folk on that day. This custom dates from very early 
times, and it was doubtless intended as a suitable prepara- 
tion for Good Friday, and was an imitation of the act of 
our Blessed Lord in washing the feet of His disciples 
as related in St. John xiii., with especial reference to 
the fourteenth verse, where we read Christ's words : " If I, 
then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye 
ought also to wash one another's feet." It was formerly 
the custom in England for the King on Maundy Thursday 
1 Notes and Queries, April 6, 1850. 


to wash with his own hands the feet of as many poor men 
as he was years old. After this, food and money were 
given them. This ceremony was performed at Greenwich 
by Queen Elizabeth when she was thirty-nine years of age. 
Chambers tells us that she was attended by thirty -nine 
ladies, and that thirty-nine poor persons had first their feet 
washed by the yeomen of the laundry with warm water 
and sweet herbs ; afterwards by the sub-almoner, and 
lastly by the Queen herself kneeling. These various per- 
sons — the yeomen, the sub-almoner, and the Queen — after 
washing each foot, marked it with the sign of the Cross 
above the toes, and kissed it. Clothes, victuals, aDd money 
were then distributed. James II. was the last English 
King who carried out this ceremony in its entirety. 

William III., as a sound Protestant, preferred to do this 
sort of thing by deputy, and left the washing to his almoner, 
and thus the pious custom in its old form died out. On 
Maundy Thursday, 1731, George II. was forty-eight years 
old, and forty-eight poor men, and a like number of poor 
women, had food distributed to them in the Banqueting 
House, Whitehall. The donation was curious enough as 
regards the variety of eatables. There were boiled beef, 
shoulders of mutton, and small bowls of ale. This was 
called dinner. After that, large wooden platters of fish and 
loaves ; one old large ling, and one large dried cod; twelve red 
herrings and twelve white herrings, and four half-quartern 
loaves. Each person had one platter of this provision — not 
a very bountiful supply when it had to be divided among 
ninety-six poor people — but the first two Georges were not 
remarkable for their generosity. The poor folk fared better 
when the distribution of clothes and money took place. 
They received shoes, stockings, and leather bags, with 
penny, twopenny, and fourpenny pieces of silver, and shil- 
lings. It is said that each had altogether about £4 in 
value. In this reign the Lord High Almoner officiated at 


the feet-washing in place of the King. The washing cere- 
mony has long been given up, and since the beginning of 
the present reign additional money has been bestowed in 
place of provisions. 

At Exeter, on Maundy Thursday, as a friend who was 
formerly a choir boy at the Cathedral tells me, the vergers 
used to take into the close " maunds '' or baskets filled with 
coppers. The hundreds of children who collected together 
on the occasion formed themselves into some sort of order, 
and money was given into the hands of those in front, 
and the rest was scattered loosely among those behind to be 
scrambled for. 

We now come to Good Friday. I am told that at Tenby 
in Pembrokeshire, so late as the end of the last century the 
old people were in the habit of walking barefooted to 
church on that day. This custom could be traced back to 
very ancient times. 

It was also usual in that neighbourhood for young per- 
sons to meet together in Holy Week, and to " make Christ's 
bed." This was done by gathering a quantity of long reed 
leaves from the river, and weaving them into the shape of 
a man. They then laid the figure on a wooden cross, and 
placed it in a retired part of a field or garden, where they 
left it. 

Some years ago I met with the following paragraph in 
the City Press : — ■ 

" On Good Friday morning, at the Church of All Hal 
lows, Lombard Street, according to a custom which has 
been observed for the last 287 years, sixty of the younger 
boys from Christ's Hospital attended the service, after 
which, in accordance with the will of Peter Symonds, made 
in 1503, they each received at the hands of the church- 
warden, Mr. Shayer, a new penny and a packet of raisins. 
The same will also directs that the clerk and sexton shall 


receive sixpence each, the Rector of Chadwell, Essex, twenty 
shillings, and the poor of the parish and ward, and the 
Sunday school children, sixpence each. There was a large 
attendance at the service. 

" A very ancient custom was again observed at St. Bar- 
tholomew the Great, Smithfield. At the conclusion of the 
service an old tomb in the churchyard was visited, a pro- 
cession being formed, when the Eev. J. Morgan laid twenty- 
one sixpences on the tomb, which were picked up by 
twenty-one elderly females of the parish. It is stated that 
an old lady left this benefaction, and that she lies buried in 
the churchyard, but the exact spot cannot be pointed out." 

A writer in the Daily Telegraph of March 28, 1891, 
supplies a little additional information as regards All 
Hallows, which is useful as illustrating the action now so 
commonly taken by the " Charity Commissioners." He 
says : — " Yesterday (Good Friday), owing to the action of 
the Charity Commissioners, the bequest was fulfilled for 
the last time. A full congregation attended the morning 
service, and the front pews were occupied by sixty of the 
youngest Bluecoat boys. At the close of the service the 
boys filed to the chancel in front of the Communion rails, 
and Canon Bawlinson, the rector, handed to each a new 
penny, while the churchwardens added a paper of ' good 
raisons,' with a bun, an orange, and an Easter card. Peter 
Symonds devised the sum of 3s. 4d. to provide for the 
' raisons,' and he ordered a donation of 30s. to Christ's 
Hospital to be set aside from the annuity of £3 2s. 8d. 
payable to the churchwardens, who are entitled to 2s. for 
their ' paines.' All Hallows, Lombard Street, has lost 
£3,600 of its former revenue under the Charity Commis- 
sioners' scheme, and yesterday an offertory had to be taken 
to meet the current expenses of the church." 

The Rector of Stoke Edith in Herefordshire, writing in 
1873, stated that he was told by an old woman in Ledbury, 


that an aunt of hers who lived at Bosbury, about four 
miles off, and who died in 1872, used always on Good 
Friday to put on a white apron with a large bow behind, 
and never had anything to eat until she came back from 
church. He further adds that the late Archdeacon Evans 
told him that in his college days at Cambridge no meat 
could be had from the kitchen at Trinity until the after- 
noon — three o'clock, he believed. 

In the days of our grandfathers, or great grandfathers, I 
have reason to believe that the religious observance of the 
Good Friday fast was not so uncommon as people are apt to 
suppose. Take the following as a typical instance: — A 
lady tells me that her grandfather, who was Rector of St. 
Asaph, Caerwys, when he married, went to live in the 
house which his wife's family had occupied for more than 
a hundred years. There, on Good Friday, the dinner con- 
sisted of pikelets or pancakes, made of flour, yeast, milk, 
and water, but no eggs. This was cooked on a " bake- 
stone." No meat was provided, but potatoes formed part 
of the meal. 

One is naturally glad to hear of labouring people attend- 
ing to a Church rule of the kind we are considering. I 
have an account of an old woman living in a parish near 
Wolverhampton, who was not in other respects very parti- 
cular about her religious duties. On one Maundy Thurs- 
day she had some meat given to her, but she said that she 
should keep it till the Saturday, as she had never eaten 
meat on Good Friday. It is believed that this feeling is 
very general in the parish where the old woman lived. 

To turn to another way in which Good Friday was 
marked in some other places. Years ago the clergy of the 
ancient Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Youghal, County 
Cork, always officiated in black gown and hood on Good 
Friday. Possibly the practice may still be continued. 1 
1 Notes and Queries, May 11, 1872. 


Even the sacredness and solemn character of this day has 
not preserved it from what strict Church people would 
regard as desecration. I find that in Sussex, people who 
do not play at marbles at any other time do so on Good. 
Friday. On that day they play as much as possible. They 
will play in the road at the church gates till the moment 
before service, and begin again as soon as the service is 
over. The marble season in Sussex is between Ash Wed- 
nesday and Good Friday. 1 The same custom, I understand, 
prevails in some parts of Essex, and the day is called 
" Marble Day." 

A very odd custom prevailed at Glentham in Lincoln- 
shire until the early part of the present century. There 
is in the church there a tomb with a figure, popularly 
called " Molly Grime." This figure was regularly washed 
every Good Friday by seven aged maidens of Glentham,. 
with water brought from Newell Well ; each receiving a 
shilling for her trouble. This was in consequence of an, 
old bequest connected with some property in that district. 
About 1832 the property was sold without any reference to> 
the custom which had been attached to it, and the Molly 
Grime washing was discontinued. 

It will be remembered that among the Palm Sunday 
customs I quoted from the churchwardens' accounts in the 
parish of St. Julian, Shrewsbury. In the same document 
there is a most astonishing item to the effect that on Easter 
Day, 1622, there was a celebration of the Holy Communion 
at " Morninge Prayer," and another at the " hie service," 
when thirteen quarts of muscadine were consumed ! Well 
instructed church folk, who are accustomed to take only a 
few drops from the chalice, may perhaps be aware that in 
many country places rustic communicants, who have not 
been taught better, are in the habit of taking enouo-h of 
the consecrated Wine to half fill a small wine glass • but 
1 Notes and Queries, July 5, 1879. 


the idea of more than three gallons of the consecrated 
Species being consumed in one day by the communicants of 
a parish which even now does not reckon more than two 
thousand inhabitants, reveals a dreadful state of things. 

It seems only natural that at such a time of festivity as 
Easter the customs attaching to the season took a secular 
rather than a religious form. Indeed, I know of none 
which were distinctively religious unless the following may 
be so regarded. 

From the Rev. J. Burleigh Colvill I understand that 
when he was in charge of the parish of Hewelsfield in the 
Forest of Dean, the churchwardens were wont to present 
to him, as he entered the church, two bouquets of flowers. 
One of these was to be placed on the altar, and the other 
was to be worn by the officiant. 

I believe that in days long gone by it was the custom in 
many places to have a celebration of the Holy Communion 
very early on Easter morning. Thus at Usk in Mon- 
mouthshire, I understand that such a service at six o'clock 
on the morning of that day is quite a time-honoured 

One way in which our forefathers were accustomed to 
distinguish Easter Day as a special festival was by donning 
new clothes on that morning as a regular thing. A gentle- 
man has told me that an ancestor of his who lived at the 
beginning of the last century always put on all her jewels 
on Easter Day. It is not likely that this was a mere 
private fancy of a religious woman. The probability is 
that she was simply following in the matter the general 
custom of ladies of her own rank at that date. 

A clergyman has told me that when he was at Hawk- 
church in Dorsetshire it was the custom for the parish 
clerk to make and take round on Easter Day to the houses 
of the principal inhabitants cakes made of flour, butter, and 
currants, and powdered with sugar. It need scarcely be 


said these were sold at remunerative rates, and it was con- 
sidered quite a wrong thing for any "respectable " family 
to be without them on Easter Day. A lady tells me that 
this was also the custom in the parish of St. Mary Magda- 
lene, Taunton. 

Hasted, in his " History of Kent " (1790), states that in 
the parish of Biddenden there is an endowment of old but 
unknown date for making a distribution of cakes amongst 
the poor every Easter Day in the afternoon. The source of 
the benefaction consists in twenty acres of land in five 
parcels commonly called " Bread and Cheese Land." Prac- 
tically, in Mr. Hasted's time, six hundred cakes were thus 
disposed of, being given to persons who attended service, 
while two hundred and seventy loaves of three and a half 
pounds weight each, with a pound and a half of cheese, 
were given in addition to such as were parishioners. 

In the earlier part of the present century a curious cus- 
tom prevailed in Birmingham. On Easter Monday any 
woman caught in the streets unprotected was liable to be 
lifted, or " heaved," as it was called, by any party of men 
whom she met, and she was not allowed to go free without 
paying a forfeit. The plan was for two of the men to clasp 
each other's wrists, and to make the victim sit upon their 
joined arms. They then lifted her up and down two or 
three times, and carried her a little way down the street. 
On Easter Tuesday the women were wont to retaliate upon 
the men in a similar fashion. Possibly this usage may 
originally have had some symbolical reference to the Resur- 
rection. The popular idea was that the " heaving " was a 
pretended test as to how Lent had been observed by 
the patient. This custom used to prevail in Lancashire, 
Cheshire, and Staffordshire, as well as in Warwickshire. I 
have seen it stated that in Durham the men on Easter 
Monday used to claim the right to take off the women's 
shoes, and that on Easter Tuesday the women retaliated. 


The custom of giving away eggs, hard-boiled and fane - 
fully coloured, at Easter, is too well known to need more 
than a passing notice. However, probably some of those 
who give or receive them think little of the religious signi- 
fication of the custom, and how remarkable a type of the 
Resurrection is a chick coming from an"egg. 

May is the month wherein nature breaks out into re- 
newed beauty, and has, almost from time immemorial, been 
connected with joviality and lightness of heart. The 
ancient festival of the goddess Flora was held on or about 
the first of May, and it has been supposed that the prettj' 
rustic custom of choosing a "Queen of the May'' originated 
from the heathen commemoration. In olden times when 
Rome, as a Christian Church, was in the ascendant, May 
was the month kept in honour of the Blessed Virgin. 
When I was living at Teignmouth in South Devon a good 
many years ago, it was usual for the children to go about 
f rom house to house on May-day exhibiting a doll gaily 
dressed, and surrounded with flowers. The doll was carried 
in a box or a basket. These, I have no doubt, was origin- 
ally intended to represent the Virgin Mary ; they now go 
by the somewhat debased name of " May Babies." 

This custom is not peculiar to Devonshire. I find that 
in Essex these dolls are or were carried about on May-day, 
and, if I mistake not, also at Hitchin in Hertfordshire, and 
probably at many other places. Thus the late Colonel 
Bagnall, when churchwarden at West Bromwich, told me 
that in that town the children, on May-day, bring round 
garlands, decorated sticks and dolls in a bower adorned 
with flowers. 

It may not be generally known that the church of St. 
Andrew Undershaft, in the city of London, received its 
name from the exceptionally lofty May-pole which was 
annually set up in the street in front of the church, and to 
which Chaucer refers when he speaks of " the great shaft 


of Cornhill." It was higher than the church steeple, and 
was destroyed by the Puritans as tending to minister to 
the cheerfulness and amusement of the parishioners and 
the people generally. This destruction necessarily brings 
to one's mind the caustic sarcasm of Lord Macaulay, who 
says that the Puritans set their faces against bear-baiting, 
not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave 
pleasure to the spectators. 

Rogation Tide comes next in order. It need scarcely be 
said that the Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday, and 
Wednesday before Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday. 
The custom of having religious processions and other ob- 
servances on these days is a very ancient one, and can be 
traced back to the middle of the fifth century. In the 
northern counties they are called "Gangen Days," from 
the Anglo-Saxon word " Gangen " to go. The observance 
of these days was twofold in its character, and was partly 
religious and partly secular. Regarded religiously, the 
perambulation of the parish by the clergy, choir, and 
people was for the purpose of invoking God's blessing 
upon the rising crops, during which procession Psalm ciii. 
was sung, and other devotions were introduced. In the 
interests of justice this perambulation was utilised for the 
purpose of keeping up in the minds of the parishioners 
the exact limits of the parish boundaries. To this end 
such sentences as " Cursed is he that translate th the 
bounds of his neighbour " formed part of the service. 

The true purpose of the Rogation Tide procession is well 
expressed by George Herbert in his " Country Parson," 
published in 1652, thus : — 

" The country parson is a lover of old customs if they be 
good and harmless. Particularly he loves procession, and 
maintains it, because there are contained therein four 


manifold advantages. (1) A blessing of God for the fruits 
of the field ; (2) Justice in the preservation of bounds ; 
(3) Charitie in loving, walking, and neighbourly accom- 
panying one another, with reconciling of differences at that 
time, if there be any ; (4) Mercy in relieving the poor by a 
liberal distribution or largess, which at that time is or 
ought to be used. Therefore he exacts of all to be present 
at the perambulation, and those that withdraw and sever 
themselves from it he mislikes and reproves as uncharitable 
and unneighbourly, and if they will not reform, presents 

An account of a partially religious Rogation procession 
in the early part of this century can scarcely fail to be 
interesting. The Vicar of Burpham, near Arundel, has 
been good enough to send me the following extract from 
his parish books. The intermingling of Bible reading and 
drinking is odd enough. It is evident that there was a 
feeling that a Rogation Tide procession ought to have some 
sort of religious element connected with it, but neither 
parson nor people knew what it ought to be. Here is the 
recorded account : — 

" An exact account of the procession or bound-treading 
of the parish of Burpham as the bounds were set out and 
perambulated on the 29th of March, 1810, by the under- 

" On Tuesday, in Rogation Week, the minister, church- 
wardens, and other inhabitants of the said parish 0" 
Burpham, met in the church, and from thence went to the 
chalk pit in Burpham Slipe, and over the river round 
Burpham brooks, and then crossed the river again at 
Peppering Slipe, and so to the malthouse, where upon a 
bank near the said malthouse they made a cross and a 
bound, and the minister read the Epistle and Gospel, and 


Great Peppering brought two gallons of ale and a cake and 
a cheese, and Little Peppering one gallon of ale and a 
cake and a cheese. 

"From thence they went round Peppering brooks and 
meads to a sluice upon the boundary ditch, and so along to 
the Whapple gate which goes into Stoke fields, and then 
under the hedge to the corner of it, and there they make a 
cross and a bound, and so round the Downs at the end of a 
ditch upon the road, and there they make a cross and a 
bound, and then go round the greater part of Coome Farm 
till they come to a lane between Lee farm-house and Coome 
House, and there they make a cross and a bound, and the 
minister reads again, and Coome Farm brings about eight 
or ten gallons of ale, and a two-gallon loaf of bread, and a 
cheese, and a cake of two gallons. After this they go 
along the lane and ascend the hill, and at the place where 
Coome Downs join Wepham Downs, they make a cross and 
a bound, and from thence they walk along the road to the 
corner of Hey ward's coppice, where they make a cross and 
a bound under the hedge, and after this they make their 
perambulation between Burpham and Augmering parishes 
to Wepham Ball, and then they go round the Ball to an 
old ash tree which stands in Mr. Cheal's coppice, which 
they strip on the east side, and from this tree they go 
directly south to the Lady's coppice, and then by the 
maple stem in the hedge they throw up a heap of stones, 
and from this maple stem they go along the ditch between 
Lady's coppice and Well coppice to the corner of Blake- 
hurst field, where they make a cross and a bound, and 
from thence they surround all the woods, and the Burpham 
four acres to the corner of Candle-croft, where in the lane 
near the gate they make a cross and a bound, and the 
minister reads again, and to this place, John Knowles, 
Wepham Farm, sends a gallon loaf, and a gallon cake, and 
cheese, and six gallons of ale. From this place they 


descend Warning-Camp Downs, and encompass the Vinell 

to a croft called , and from thence round the Hoe 

and Wepham meads and brooks, and about the middle of 
the hill to the river, and by the river- side to the chalk pit, 
where they set out, and from thence to the walnut tree in 
Burpham Street, where all the freeholders and copyholders 
bring a gallon of ale, and a cake, and cheese, unless it be 
the farm of John Knowles, who paid his custom at Candle- 
croft, and so ends the procession. 

" I certify that I went the bounds with the persons 
undersigned on the day and year above mentioned. 

" Witness my hand. 

" Wm. W. Holland, Vicar of Burpham. 
Dennet Harvee, 1 ^,, , , 

John Puckeridge, j Churchwardens. 

The mark of X Richard Rafford — Parish Clerk. 

Francis Stedman. 

Thomas Port. 

Joseph Page, 

Peter Page, 

Wm. West, 

John Puckeridge, Jun, 

Wm. Puckeridge, 

James Puckeridge, 

Witnesses of the due observance of the above customs. 

Dennett Hersea. ) rt\. ^ ^ » 

t 1, r> i -i < Churchwardens. 
John Puckeridge. j 

It is rather noticeable in looking down this list of signa- 
tories, that the parish clerk was the only one who was 
unable to write his name. 

Of course we know not how many persons in addition 
to the above-named took part in the procession, but pro- 
bably not very many, for the parish is quite a small one, 
and in 1841, the earliest record that I have, the population 
was only 280, and, at least, two-thirds of these would, I 
presume, be women and children. Supposing that we 



estimate the freeholders and copyholders at Burpham 
Street as four, and those at Wepham Cross as two only, we 
arrive at this interesting total as regards the refreshment 
provided — twenty-three gallons of ale, several gallons of 
bread and cake, and an unknown quantity of cheese — a 
fairly liberal allowance ! 

By the injunctions of Elizabeth, it was required that in 
order to retain the perambulation of the circuits of 
parishes, the people should, once in the year, at the time 
accustomed, with the curate and substantial men of the 
parish, walk about the parishes as they were accustomed, 
and at their return to the church make their common 
prayers. And the curate in these perambulations was at 
certain convenient places to admonish the people to give 
thanks to God as they beheld His benefits, and for the 
increase and abundance of the fruits upon the face of the 
earth. The 103rd and 104th Psalms were appointed to be 
said on these occasions, and the minister was to inculcate 
such sentences as these : — " Cursed is he that translateth 
the bounds or doles of his neighbour." A sermon or 
homily of thanksgiving was to follow, and divine service 
said in church. 

Eating and drinking always seems to have been an im- 
portant item in connection with Rogation Tide processions. 
In some parishes we find that certain moneys were be- 
queathed by former residents towards the refreshment of 
those who took part in them. Thus in the parish of 
Edgcott in Buckinghamshire there is about an acre of 
land, let at £3 a year, called " Gang Monsay Land," which 
was left to the parish officers to provide cakes and beer for 
those who took part in the annual perambulation of the 
parish. At Clifton Reynes, in the same county, a bequest 
of land for a similar purpose directs that one small loaf, a 
piece of cheese, and a pint of ale, should be given to every 
married person, and half a pint of ale to every unmarried 


person, resident in Clifton, when they walked the parish 
boundaries in Rogation Week. A certain estate at Har- 
borne Crawley in Bedfordshire has to pay £4 on Rogation 
Day once in seven years, to defray the expense of peram- 
bulating and keeping up the boundaries of the parish. 1 . 

It is much to be wished that the Rogation processions 
conducted on the old religious model were reintroduced, at. 
least in our country parishes. This might easily be 
brought about if our Primate, as Archbishop Seeker did in 
1750, would urge his clergy to revert to the old practice 
such as was in use in Queen Elizabeth's reign. It may be 
well to state that, at Wolverhampton, until about 1765, the 
sacrist, resident prebendaries, and members of the choir 
assembled at morning prayer on Monday and Tuesday in 
Rogation Week, with charity children bearing long poles- 
clothed with all sorts of flowers then in season, which were 
afterwards carried through the streets with much so- 
lemnity ; the clergy, singing men and boys, in their church 
vestments, closing the procession and chanting the " Bene- 
dicite." The boundaries of the parish were marked in 
many places by "gospel trees." These were the spots 
where the Gospel was read during the function. 

It is to be feared that, in the past, Ascension Day, or 
" Holy Thursday," has been greatly neglected, but there 
are not wanting evidences that a desire existed for a more 
reverent commemoration of the great event which forms 
an article in our Creed. Thus the rector has told me that 
the will of Sylvanus Lysons (who left certain lands in 
trust for charitable purposes) provides that there shall be 
service in Hemsted Church, Gloucestershire, on Ascension 
Day, with a celebration of Holy Communion. A guinea to 
the officiating clergyman, with a fee to the clerk, is paid 
from the funds of the " Lys.jn's charity." 
1 "Book of Days," I. 583. 


For some reason or another, the element of water seems 
to be mixed up with Ascension Day local customs. Thus 
" Cuthbert Bede " writes : — " A Warwickshire cook of a 
relative of mine was seen last Ascension Day, May 1, 
standing out of doors, basin in hand, to catch the rain that 
was falling. In explanation she said that Holy Thursday 
water was holy water, and came straight from Heaven. 
The reason why she preserved it was that it was good for 
weak or sore eyes." 

Witness, again, a custom which was usual some years 
ago in the town of Cowbridge in Glamorganshire on As- 
cension Day. The children formed parties, each being pro- 
vided with sugar and a cup. Water was then taken from 
one of the wells in the neighbourhood, the " Bowman's " 
Well being an especial favourite, and the sugar put into it. 
This water was then drunk. The day was usually desig- 
nated " Sugar and Water Day." I believe that this custom 
■is observed in other places, but I have no idea what its 
meaning can be. 

The ancient custom of well-dressing, as at Tissington, 
Derbyshire, took place on Ascension Day. The ceremony 
is full of interest, and I purpose giving an account of it in 
due course. 

I cannot close these notices about Ascension Day customs 
without saying that Mr. Mackenzie Walcot, in his Sacred 
Archaeology, states that at St. Magnus, in the city of 
London, the clergy on this day are presented with ribbons, 
silks, and stay-laces. If it is difficult to understand what 
connection there can be between Water and Holy Thurs- 
day, it is still more puzzling to discover what these above- 
named articles can have to do with the festival. 

We come to Whitsun Tide, the characteristic observance 
of which in former times consisted in the holding of 
" Church Ales," which has been already described in these 


papers. There are, however, one or two local customs 
which must be noticed. 

From an early date the householders of St. Briavels, near 
Coleford, Gloucestershire, have had the privilege of cutting 
down the underwood and of pasturing cattle and sheep on 
a tract of land of about 1,200 acres, called " Halknall," or 
some such name. It is said that a penny a year was for- 
merly paid to the churchwardens — I presume from those 
who used the land — and that this money was expended in 
the purchase of bread and cheese to be distributed in the 
church on Whitsun Day. This payment has long fallen 
into disuse, and the distribution of bread and cheese, no doubt, 
originally given to the poorer worshippers, degenerated to a 
mere scramble, and the church was sadly desecrated. In 
modern times, as I am informed, the stalest bread and the 
hardest " skim cheese " was bought and cut into small 
squares. Of course I am now describing what took place 
a great many years ago, though I call them, comparatively 
speaking, modern times. These portions of bread and 
-cheese were brought into the church in baskets, and imme- 
diately after the afternoon service were thrown all over 
the church. Numbers of rough people came from the 
Forest of Dean for the frolic, and the evening was com- 
monly passed in drinking and riot. Some twenty or more 
years ago the practice of throwing the bread and cheese 
about the church was discontinued, and they were thrown 
down from the church tower, and scrambled for in the 
■churchyard. Of late years, says a friend, writing in 1880, 
the distribution took place outside the churchyard gates, 
in the road. For the last few years the custom has been 
dying out, and it ceased in 1879. It is to be hoped that it 
never will be revived, as its original signification has been 
-entirely lost. 

Several communications have been addressed to me, 
drawino- attention to the fact that it has been an imme- 


raorial custom in some parishes to decorate the church with 
houghs or sprigs of birch on Whitsun Day. What connec- 
tion "The Lady of the Woods,'' as Coleridge styles the 
graceful birch-tree, can have to do with Whitsun Tide, will 
probably be a puzzle to many ; but I think that a reason 
can be found without looking very far. All those who 
are versed in what may be called " Tree Lore," must be 
aware that one of the peculiarities of the birch is its more 
than ordinary power of resisting decay. This attribute of 
durability is in an especial degree possessed by its bark. 
This has been proved by the fact that portions of birch 
bark have been found uninjured at considerable depths in 
peat bogs, where it must have lain for centuries. The 
symbolism is obvious, but I do not remember having ever 
seen it noticed. 

I have but few customs to note as connected with special 
days during the Trinity season ; the following, however, 
may fitly be mentioned. 

In some districts in the West Riding of Yorkshire the 
Sunday following June 28 is called " Thump Sunday." It 
is usual on that day for people to visit their friends, and to 
eat spiced cake and cheese. 1 

" Crack Nut '' seems an odd name to give to a Sunday, 
but in a modern handbook of Kingston on Thames it is 
stated that until a recent period the congregation at the 
parish church used to crack nuts during service time on 
the Sunday next before the eve of Michaelmas Day. The 
day was known as " Crack Nut Sunday," and the custom 
was practised alike by young and old. 

Forty years ago it was still the custom in the parishes of 
Cuckfield and Hurstpierpoint in Sussex to observe St. 
Crispin's Day (October 25), and it was kept with much 
rejoicing. The boys went round asking for money in th& 
name of St. Crispin, bonfires were lighted, and the day 
1 Notes and Queries, July 1, 1876. 


passed off very much in the same way as the fifth of 
November does amongst ourselves. 

Miss C. M. Yonge, writing from Otter bourne, Winchester, 
has told me that in that part of Hampshire blacksmiths 
explode gunpowder on their anvils on St. Clement's Day 
(November 23). She has heard the reports when at Otter- 
bourne, and more recently at Hursley, but the custom is 
pretty nearly given up. 

At Eipon Minster, on or about St. Clement's Day, the 
choristers used to go round the church offering a rosy- 
cheeked apple, with a sprig of box stuck into it, to every 
person present, for which a small gratuity was expected, 
and, of course, generally given. 

As recently as forty years ago the village children in 
Shropshire were accustomed on All Souls' Day (November 
2) to go round to all their neighbours, "souling," as they 
termed it, collecting small contributions, and singing a 
doggerel song ; of which the first stanza will be enough to 
quote : — 

" Soul, soul, for a soul cake ; 
Pray, good mistress, for a soul cake, 
One for Peter, two for Paul, 
Three for them that made us all." 

The soul cake referred to in the verses was a sort of bun 
which people were in the habit of making to give to one 
another on All Souls' Day. 

In the neighbourhood of Sandback in Cheshire, "souling " 
was formerly carried on with great zeal and energy on 
November 2. It was, I understand, commonly believed 
there that it was a remnant of the ancient custom for col- 
lecting money for masses for the dead. 



We will now pass on to consider a few customs connected 
with church music in past times. Doubtless a good deal 
could be unearthed respecting it, but only a little, compara- 
tively speaking, have I come across in the course of my 

It is probable that church music was at its lowest ebb in 
the days of the early Georges. From the time of the 
Commonwealth it had been going down. The cheerfulness 
which music was calculated to give to the services of the 
church would naturally cause it to be viewed with dis- 
favour by the Puritans, and many church organs were 
destroyed while they were in the ascendant, but after the 
Restoration they were gradually re-introduced, notwith- 
standing a great deal of popular prejudice which existed 
against them. 

It was in cathedrals, of course, that the musical part of 
divine service was most efficiently rendered, but even in 
them things were often far from satisfactory. What could 
be expected of places like Carlisle which were presided 
over by Puritan bishops, like Barnabas Potter (1629-1642), 
who is reported to have said that an organ would blow 
him out of church. The instruments employed seem to 
have been very various. Mr. Walcot tells us that viols 
were used at Exeter, musical instruments at Lincoln in 
1631, and the lyre and harp at Hereford. Cornets and 



sackbuts were played at Worcester at the reception of 
Elizabeth, August 13, 1575, and in 1667 cornets were 
used at Westminster. 1 Occasionally we hear even in bad 
times of some effort having been made to render the 
service of God more dignified than was common in those 
days. Thus at the beginning of the eighteenth century 
the Te Deum was sung in Durham Cathedral to instru- 
mental music, and on February 1, 1733, at the service on 
behalf of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy at 
St. Paul's, Handel's Te Deum, Jubilate, and two anthems* 
were performed by a much greater number of voices than 
usual, about fifty gentlemen performing gratis. 2 Mr. 
Walcot quotes from the Nonne's Priestes Tale of Chaucer a 
couple of lines which he considers proves that even in the 
poet's day, and he died in 1400, the organ was only used at 
festival times : — 

" His vois was merrier than the mery orgon 
On massie days that in the churches gon." 

In my own youthful days it was a very common thing to- 
have in village churches a band of rustics with fiddles and 
flutes stationed in the west gallery to accompany the sing- 
ing of Tate and Brady's Metrical Psalms. This was in the 
Midlands, where, if I mistake not, things ecclesiastical 
were often at a very low ebb. The men played, of course, 
with far more vigour than taste; a noise rather than melody 
seemed to be the thing aimed at. A clergyman has told 
me that when he went to Castle Morton, near Tewkesbury,, 
in 1868, the west gallery was occupied by a bass viol and 
three violins. I merely mention this to show that what I 
have heard called a " Nebuchadnezzar band" in church was 
continued almost until our own time, and there are pro- 

1 " Custom of Cathedrals,'' p. 108. 

• Gentlemen's Magazine, February, 1733. 


bably such things still in use. Barrel organs with, of 
course, an exceedingly limited selection of tunes, were, 
within living memory, by no means uncommon. A lady 
friend tells me that one of these organs was in use in the 
«hurch of Great Bircham, a village in Norfolk, in 1869, and 
for some years afterwards. The handle, she says, was 
always turned very rapidly, but the music produced was 
slower than legato, and the singing was drawling to a 
ludicrous degree. The congregation on rising to sing faced 
the organ, which stood in the north aisle. 

But to proceed. Mr. Abbey seems to think that the 
ignorance of parish clerks had much to do with the de- 
based condition into which church music had fallen, for in 
the last century they seem to have had the chief direction 
■of it, even to choosing the metrical psalms which should 
be sung. He quotes from John Wesley's works, and relates 
how he mentioned an amusing reminiscence of his boyhood. 
" One Sunday, immediately after sermon, my father's clerk 
said, in an audible voice, ' Let us sing to the praise, etc., a 
hymn of my own composing : — 

" ' King William is come home, come home, 
King William home is come, 
-' Therefore let us together sing 

The hymn that's called Te Bum.'" 1 

Let us try to imagine the condition in which the church 
must have been when such a thing as this could be possible. 
It must, however, be borne in mind that it did not go on 
without protest. Thus an article from the Weekly Mis- 
cellany, reprinted in the Gentlemen's Magazine lor 
February, 1741, treats of " The Abuse of Psalmody in 
Churches." It is complained that in most parishes a set of 
men called the " singers " manage the psalm singing and 

1 " Works," x., 445. 


anthems as they like ; choose the portions to be sung 
themselves, in spite of the parson, and often make absurd 
selections, and use tunes in which by reason of their new- 
ness and variety the congregation could not take part. It 
is regretted that the custom of repeating the psalm line by 
line is given up, although it is condemned by Bishop Wren 
as " indecent and uncouth," and by Dr. Watts as an " un- 
happy way of singing." 

Things must, indeed, have been bad when such a bar- 
barous practice as that just mentioned could be regarded 
by any man of ordinary intellect as being preferable to any 
existing practice. 

It would seem that this habit of reading the metrical 
psalms line by line was introduced by the Puritans, from 
whom we have inherited other church abominations. Take 
the following passage from the Westminster Directory : — 
" In singing of psalms .... for the present, where many 
of the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the 
minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and 
the other ruling officers, doe reade the psalme, line by line, 
before the singing thereof." 

Miss C. M. Yonge has given me a curious experience of 
her own, which would seem to point to a more decent and 
reverend method of conducting Divine service than might 
have been expected. She said that in her early days 
the people at a church which she attended " made the 
responses in a full harmonious cadence as if it were the 
tradition of a chant." This was in a church very old and 
dilapidated, with a service only once on a Sunday, and no 
resident clergyman. 

The playing of what were called " Voluntaries," except 
before and after service, is a custom which, I fancy, has 
almost died out. Yet I remember that when I was a boy, 
and used to go to St. Philip's Church, Birmingham, a 
"Voluntary" was always played after the reading of the 


second lesson on a Sunday. The clergy, the clerk, and all 
the congregation sat whilst it was going on. I believe that 
in those days this was no uncommon practice. In some 
places it was customary for a " Voluntary " to be played 
after the Psalms, and also before the second lesson. 

It would be interesting to know something about the 
introduction of surpliced choirs in parish churches, but I 
regret to say that I have very little information about this. 
The Vicar of Sherborne, Dorsetshire, writes : — " I perfectly 
well remember, when a boy, seeing the choir boys wear sur- 
plices in the west gallery of the Abbey Church, here. 
After a time these boys were replaced by girls of a ' Blue 
School,' as it was called, who were disrespectfully described 
as ' screaming maidens.' My predecessor, the Rev. E. 
Harston, when the church was restored, instituted a regular 
choir, and finding the old surplices, after a time obtained 
surplices for the men and boys, and since then we have had 
a regular surpliced choir who sit in the choir stalls." Some 
have supposed that at Milbourne Port, near Sherborne, the 
choir, surpliced, occupied the west gallery, but the incum- 
bent tells me the singers there were first put into sur- 
plices between thirty and forty years ago by his father, 
the rector and squire of the parish, merely because their 
conduct in the west gallery, now abolished, was not ex- 

The Rev. A. T. Fryer tells me that formerly at Exeter 
Cathedral the choir boys on their admission were formally 
installed. The chorister elect used to sit upstairs in the 
organ-loft until after the second lesson. He then came 
down the steps, and was met at the bottom by the vergers 
with their " pokers," and the head choir boy. A procession 
was formed, and at the entrance to the stalls a halt was 
made, when the head choir boy recited as follows : — " I, 
A. B., do hereby instal you, C. D., as a chorister of this Cathe- 
dral Church of St. Peter." The Dean's name was also 


introduced. For that ceremony there was a fee of about 
£1 2s. 6d., which was divided amongst the boys according 
to rank, the vergers also receiving their share. 

He also has informed me that when he was a choir boy 
there, Bishop Philpotts, when present at the mid-day Cele- 
bration on Sundays, was accustomed to bless the boys in 
this wise : — " At the end of the service we filed out from 
the back of the communicants (having been sitting not in 
the stalls but on a wooden bench behind the communi- 
cants) and passed from the choir to the south aisle. Two 
long benches with kneelers had been previously placed 
athwart the south aisle between the choir door and the 
private entrance to the Palace. As the Bishop passed 
through he laid his hands on each boy, and said to him, 
' God bless you.' " 

A few words about carols. The beautiful words of the 
carols written by Dr. Neale and others, and the charming 
melodies to which they have been set, have done much to 
lead to the disuse of certain old favourites, which probably 
will in a few years be forgotten. The rector of Grasmere 
has told me that the old carol, beginning " A Virgin un- 
spotted," was traditional in that parish until some thirty 
years ago, when for some reason it ceased to be sung. 
Latterly it has been revived, to the great joy of the people, 
who in the North are warmly attached to old customs. 
I remember that shortly after I was ordained — say about 
forty years ago — I was fairly puzzled by the first line of 
this carol as it was rendered by an ill-taught village boy. 
Some children came to my door one Christmas Eve, and I 
asked them what carols they knew. The first two men- 
tioned were, as their spokesman pronounced the words, 
" David and Lazarus," and "The Virgin and Spotty." Of' 
course the former of these was easy of interpretation, but 
the latter for a few moments puzzled me, as I had never 
heard of the carol. Of course I chose " The Virgin and 


Spotty," and the words were pronounced by the children 
exactly as I have written them. 

Amongst the carols which are now rapidly becoming 
obsolete is one which was formerly very popular. Twenty 
years hence its use will very likely be a thing of the past, 
if it is not now almost forgotten. It was called " The 
Seven Joys of Mary," and ran as follows : — 

" The first great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of one, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Sucking at her breast bone : 
Sucking at her breast bone, Good Lord, 

Oh ! blessed may we be, 
With Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 

To all eternity. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of two, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Making the lame to go : 
Making the lame to go, Good Lord, etc. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of three, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Making the blind to see : 
Slaking the blind to see, Good Lord, etc. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of four, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Reading the Bible o'er : 
Reading the Bible o'er, Good Lord, etc. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 
It was the joy of five, 


To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Making the dead alive : 
Making the dead alive, Good Lord, etc. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of six, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Bearing the Crucifix : 
Bearing the Crucifix, Good Lord, etc. 

" The next great joy that Mary had, 

It was the joy of seven, 
To see her ransomed Jesus Christ 

Ascending into Heaven : 
Ascending into Heaven, Good Lord, 

Oh ! blessed may we be, 
"With Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 

To all eternity." 

A lady has been kind enough to send me a copy of a very 
singular old Cornish carol which in its quaint construction 
strongly reminds one of the old friend of our childhood, 
" The House that Jack Built." It is thrown into the form of 
a dialogue between a soprano and a bass vocalist. The 
Soprano begins : — 

"Soprano. — Come and I will sing you. 
Bass. — What will you sing me ? 
Soprano. — I will sing you one, O. 
Bass. — What is your one, O ? 
Soprano. — One of them was all alone, 
And ever will remain so. 
Come and I will sing you. 
Bass. — What will you sing me ? 
Soprano. — I will sing you two, O. 
Bass. — What is your two, O ? 
Soprano. — Two of them were lily white babes, 
Dressed all in green, O. 
One of them was all alone, 
And ever will remain so. 
Come and I will sing you. 


Bass. — What will you sing me ? 
Soprano. — I will sing you three, O. 
Bass. — What is your three, O ? 
Soprano. — Three of them were strangers ; 

Two of them were lily white babes, 
Dressed all in green, O. 
One of them was all alone, 
And ever will remain so. 
Come and I will sing you.'' 

And so on until we come to the last stanza, which runs : 

"Soprano. — Twelve were the twelve Apostles ; 

Eleven are they that have gone to Heaven ; 
Ten are the ten Commandments ; 
Nine the moon shines bright and clear ; 
Eight was the great Archangel ; 
Seven were the seven stars in the sky ; 
Six were the Cherubim waiters ; 
Five were the ferry men in the boat ; 
Four were the Gospel preachers ; 
Three of them were strangers ; 
Two of them were lily white babes, 
Dressed all in green, O ; 
One of them was all alone, 
And ever shall remain so." 

Let us now see how they arranged their carol singing in 
the Isle of Man in days gone by. On Christmas Eve, or " Oiel 
Verry" (Mary's Eve) as it is called in the Manx, a number 
of persons used to assemble in each parish church, and pro- 
ceed to chant carols or "Carvals." There was no unison 
or concert about the chanting, but a single person would stand 
up with a lighted candle in his or her hand, and chant in a 
dismal monotone verse after verse of some old Manx "Carval," 
until the candle was burnt out. Then another person would 
start up, and go through a similar performance. No fresh 


candle might be lighted after the clock had chimed mid- 
night. An elaborate service of song with trained choirs, 
and all decorous musical and religious accessaries, has now 
taken the place of the quaint old Carval singing. 1 

1 Notes and Queries, March 6, 1880. 



Most people know that in olden time it was the custom to 
strew the floors of grand banqueting halls with rushes in 
lieu of the carpets which we use now. Rushes were at 
times used ceremonially, as when processions of more than 
ordinary importance were in progress, the path over which 
they went was thus strewn. Churches were formerly 
strewn with rushes on great occasions. It is curious to 
notice that this practice was continued in some places to 
quite modern times. A clerical correspondent tells me 
that, up to the passing of the Municipal Reform Bill, the 
Town Clerk of Norwich was accustomed to pay to the 
sub-sacrist of the cathedral an annual guinea for strewing 
the floor with rushes on the Mayor's Day, from the western 
door to the entrance of the choir. 

How or when rush-bearing came to be regarded as a 
religious ceremony I cannot say, but the fact remains. As 
with the majority of old customs which have survived in 
more or less completeness to our own day, it is in the 
Northern Counties that the ceremonial has been retained. 
Many accounts of what ordinarily takes place at these 
rush-bearing festivals have been published ; but, notwith- 
standing that, it would not be right for me to pass them 
by unnoticed. I cannot do better than avail myself of an 
account kindly sent to me by Mr. Alexander D. H. Lead- 
man, F.S.A., of Boroughbridge, who has described what he 
himself witnessed on one occasion. 



He says, that at many little villages in Westmoreland 
rush-bearing takes place ; but in some of these the religious 
element has given way to secular festivities which are 
often the reverse of edifying. Yet the interesting cere- 
mony is still carried on with sacred service. On or about 
the eve of the last Sunday in July, garlands of flowers 
intermingled with rushes, and arranged in designs of 
various shapes, many of them showing both taste and skill 
in their construction, are borne by the village girls walking 
in procession. After parading the village they wend their 
way to the church, which is decorated for the occasion, 
where they are left. Evensong is said, hymns sung, and a 
sermon preached appropriate to the occasion. My cor- 
respondent describes it as a lovely sight not soon to be 

The day upon which the Rush-bearing Festival was kept 
varied in different localities. Mr. H. Fishwick, F.S.A., of 
Rochdale, writing in 1876, states that, " at Milnrow and 
Heywood, it was held on the first Sunday in August; at 
Littleborough on the last Sunday in July ; at Rochdale on 
the third Sunday in August ; at Whitworth on the second 
Sunday in September. In all these places " the rush-carts " 
have disappeared, but the festival is still observed as a 
holyday on Monday and Tuesday. Mr. Fishwick thinks 
that it was not more than a dozen years from the date of 
his writing since the last rush-cart, drawn by twenty or 
thirty ribbon-bedecked men, and preceded by a brass 
band, was drawn through the streets of Rochdale. 

Something has already been said about the decoration of 
churches, but a few more notes on the subject may appro- 
priately be given here. 

It is, I think, imagined by many people that, although 
it has been the general rule to decorate churches at Christ- 
mas, no such attention has until late years been paid to 
the other two great festivals. No doubt it was quite the 


exception to dress the churches at Easter and Whitsun 
Tide ; but yet the custom was observed in a good many 
parishes. Thus Miss C. M. Yonge has told me that she 
remembers the church at Otterbourne, Winchester, to have 
been decorated with greenery at Easter and Whitsun Tide, 
as well as at Christmas, when she was quite a child. This 
was the case also at Frome Selwood. 1 At Hawkhurst, 
Dorset, as a clerical correspondent informs me, the church 
used to be decorated with flowers at Easter and Whitsun 
Tide, and with evergreens at Christmas, more than sixty 
years ago, and Easter decorations were always put up in 
the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert's, Wells, quite at the 
beginning of the century. It is curious to notice the dif- 
ferent evergreens that were used at the several festivals. 
Thus, at Winterslow Church, Wiltshire, holly was formerly 
used at Christmas, box at Easter, and yew at Whitsun Tide. 
The peculiarity here was that the Whitsun Tide greenery 
was kept up till the following Christmas. The yew is not 
a cheerful-looking evergreen, and the effect during the long 
Trinity season must have been rather depressing. At Harriet- 
sham, Kent,yewonly wasemployed at Easter, whilst at Christ- 
mas other evergreens were used. It was the rule at Long 
Wittenham, Berkshire, for the church to be decorated in 
olden time at Christmas with holly and ivy, and at Easter 
with yew and box. The church at Sonning, in the 
same county, was dressed with yew on Easter Day, and 
this was an immemorial custom ; and the same may be 
said of Berkeley Church, near Frome, Somersetshire. A 
different usage has from time immemorial been followed at 
Heybridge, near Maldon, Essex. The church on Whitsun 
Day was strewn with rushes, and decorated with boughs 
of maple. At Castleton,in Derbyshire, there has been a quaint 
custom ; a garland was put on the church-steeple on May 
29, and there left until the day came round again. A con- 
1 Ecclesiologist, June, 1856. 


tributor to the Ecclesiologist, in 1865, tells us that, on the 
occasion of a visit which he paid to the church of Ashton- 
under-Hill, a chapelry to Beckford, Worcestershire, he 
found suspended inside the tower a bough of misletoe, 
which the venerable sexton led him to understand was 
an institution of the ringers. What use they had for it 
there the old gentleman could not explain, but said that it 
remained there all the year, and was supplanted by another 
on the following Christmas. 

A word or two about the pre-Eeformation mode of 
decking churches, as it seems quaint. 

In answer to a question from a correspondent in May, 
1852, the editor of Notes and Queries, the late Mr. Thorns, 
wrote : — " Garlands of rosemary and woodruff were formerly 
used to decorate the churches on St. Barnabas Day (June 
11), as appears from many old entries in church books; 
■e.g. in the churchwardens' accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill in 
the city of London, 17 and 19 Edward IV., the following 
entry occurs: — ' For Rose garlondis and Woodrove garlondis 
on St. Barnabas Daye xj. d.' The reason why woodruff 
was used, Gerard tells in his ' Historie of Plants,' p. 965 : — 
' It doth very well attemper the aire, and coole and make 
fresh the place, to the delight and comfort of such as are 

People in general know so little about Welsh church 
•customs tbat the following may be worth placing on 
record. In many Welsh churches it is usual for the floral 
decorations put up on festivals to remain on the walls till 
the next festival occurs. Mr. H. W. King, of Leigh, Essex, 
has told me that after visiting the church at Strata 
Florida in Cardiganshire, on August 21, 1873, he made 
this note: — "The sear and shrivelled leaves of the Easter 
-decoration still hung on the walls and around the windows. 
This, I am told, is a Welsh custom, and may have a 
significance unknown to me." 


A different kind of church decoration from those re- 
ferred to above may be interesting. The late Canon 
Humble, writing in 1874, said: — "At Hough ton-le- Spring,. 
Durham, it was the custom from time immemorial at the 
greater festivals to encase the pulpit in rich tapestry. The 
tapestry was ancient, and had evidently at one time been 
much larger, and been used to hang from the walls during 
the greater octaves. I saw the pulpit so adorned in 1849." 



We now come to a very interesting portion of church 
folklore, for it will be found by those who take the 
trouble to inquire, that a great many curious traditions 
and usages are connected with springs and wells, many of 
which had their origin in ancient times, and with certain 
modifications are retained at the present day, more 
especially among those who live in the remoter parts of 
the kingdom. 

It may be well to begin with Cornwall, and I am fortun- 
ate in having secured the help of Mr. S. J. Wills, Master 
of Wheal Euby Board Schools, Wendron, Helston, Corn- 
wall, who has supplied me with most valuable information 
concerning the holy wells in his own county. I am 
indebted to him for the following account of them. He 
writes : — 

" The spread of Christianity in Cornwall occasioned the 
dedication of many springs, to which miraculous virtues 
had been ascribed to patron saints, and over these, in most 
instances, small edifices were erected, which were used as 
oratories, baptistries, or for other purposes. 

" It is highly probable that many of these wells were 
originally selected by the Druids, who attributed super- 
natural virtue and sanctity to springs of water, and when 
the early Christian missionaries came hither from Ireland 
in the fourth and succeeding centuries, they found that 

the people held them in high repute. Therefore, in order 



the more readily to obtain converts, they found it desirable 
not to abolish certain customs, but to continue them with a 
new meaning. They accordingly built walls round the 
springs, and in process of time these were covered in, and 
the springs themselves dedicated to some saintly patron. 
Polwhele, the historian, recognised this feature, and re- 
marks that ' The well had before a spirit, it now has a 
guardian saint.' 

" The Druids are said by Dr. Borlase to have been able 
to impose on the credulity of the ignorant by practising 
divination. They pretended to foretell with great certainty 
the event of battles by a process of incantation, known 
only to themselves, which saw in every bubble of the water, 
every ripple of the current, and every wave of the spring, 
when put in agitation, some elucidation of the interroga- 
tions of vulgar inquirers. 

" Even now it is customary to regard these oratories with 
a veneration bordering on idolatry, and there are many 
sufficiently fanatical to cast pins into the water from super- 
stitious motives. 

" In St. Colans' Parish is Our Lady of Kant's Well, which, 
according to Norden, was visited in his time (1584) by 
men, women, and children, who wished to 'foreknowe of 
the Ladye of the well by givinge an offering, and casting 
a Palme Crosse into the water on Palme Sunday, what for- 
tune shall befall them that year.' 

"In Gulnal, near Penzance, the site of a holy well is 
still pointed out, which was visited, says old Hals, by 
credulous people, who came ' to inquire after the life or 
death of their absent friends, when being arrived they 
demanded the question at the well whether such a person, 
by name, be living, in health, sick, or dead. If the party 
be living, and in health, the still quiet water of the well-pit, 
as soon as the question is demanded, will instantly bubble 
or boil up as a pot, clear crystalline water ; if sick, foul 


and puddle water; if the party be dead, it will neither 
bubble, boil up, or alter its colour.' 

" Dr. Borlase says that its miraculous waters were con- 
sulted concerning goods or cattle lost or stolen. 

" The Gothic Well of Menacuddle, near St. Austell, was 
resorted to as a wishing well. Visitors who hoped for 
good luck through life threw a crooked pin into the water, 
presuming that other pins previously thrown in by former 
devotees would rise to meet it ere it reached the bottom. 

" St. Madron's Well, now in ruins, was much frequented 
for similar purposes. It is the most celebrated of the kind 
in Cornwall, and concerning the efficacy of its water Bishop 
Hall writes : — ' Of this kind was that (no less than miracu- 
lous) cure which at St. Maderne's in Cornwall was wrought 
upon a poor cripple whereof (besides the attestation of many 
hundreds of the neighbours) I took a strict and personal 
examination in that last visitation which I ever did or 
shall hold. This man, that for sixteen years together was. 
fain to walk upon his hands by reason of the close con- 
traction of the sinews of his legs, was (upon monitions in 
his dream to wash in that well) suddenly so restored to his 
limbs that I saw him able both to walk and to get his own 
maintenance. I found here was no art nor collusion, the 
thing done ; the author invisible.' On the first Sunday in 
May the custom of visiting the well is still retained, when,, 
at early dawn, many young folk, chiefly girls from 
Penzance, walk hastily to the wishing well before sunrise 
to ascertain the number of years that will elapse before 
they will become blessed with husbands. The ceremony 
most observed for this object is to fasten together in the 
form of a cross two bits of grass stem or straw, each about 
an inch long, with a large pin. Then on approaching the 
well, each visitor throws into it a crooked pin, and if lucky, 
other pins will be seen to rise from the bottom to meet the 
last offering. The custom of bathing children in the well 


for the cure of various ailments used to be observed on the 
first three Wednesdays in May. Eed rags were also fastened 
to the surrounding bushes as votive offerings." 

It is to be noticed that each of the principle holy wells 
possessed a distinctive power independent of other attri- 
butes. St. Nun's Well, for example, was deemed efficacious 
in the case of insanity. The manner of " boussening " as 
practised in its waters is thus quaintly described by Carew : 
" The water running from St. Nun's Well fell into a square 
and inclosed walled plot, which might be filled at what depth 
they listed. Upon this was the frantic person set to stand, 
his back towards the pool, and from thence with a sudden 
blow in the breast tumbled headlong into the pond, when a 
strong fellow, provided for the nonce, took him and tossed 
him up and down in the water; the patient, by foregoing 
his strength, had somewhat forgot his fury. Then was he 
conveyed to the church and certain things sung over him ; 
upon which, laudingly, if his right wits returned, St. Nun 
had the thanks, but if there appeared small amendment, he 
was boussed again and again while there remained in him 
any hope of life or recovery." 

Another well dedicated to St. Nun is situated on the 
western side of a beautiful valley, through which runs the 
Trelawney river, in the parish of Pelynt. The country 
people sometimes call it Piskris Well. Mr. J. H. T. Blight 
visited it some years since, and on observing a number of 
pins in the basin of the well, he inquired of a man at work 
near the spot, who informed him that it was done to get the 
good-will of the Piskris, who, it appears, after the tribute 
of a pin not only ceased to trouble the faithful, but ren- 
dered fortunate the operations of husbandry. 

Concerning St. Uny's Well in Sancreed, Dr. Borlase 
writes that on paying it a visit he found two women there, 
who had come from a neighbouring parish, busily employed 
in bathing a child, and they informed him that people who 


had a mind to receive any benefit from St. Uny's Well 
must come and wash upon the first three Wednesdays in 

There is a well near Redruth, at the foot of the Wrin- 
dick Hill, called Carn Brie, and the peculiar virtue ascribed 
to it is that whoever should be baptised in its waters would 
be preserved from being ignominiously hanged. 

" In Grade Parish, near the Lizard Point, is a well de- 
dicated to a noted hermit-saint called St. Kumon. The 
building which incloses it is faithfully preserved, and the 
water used for baptism in Grade Church has been procured 
from this well from time immemorial." 

" St. Neot's Well was celebrated in ancient times, and its 
legend is painted in one of the handsome windows of the 
church. St. Keyne's Well is another remarkable spring 
immortalised by Southey's ballad on an amusing circum- 
stance connected with its waters. The local tradition 
states that whoever drank first of its waters on entering 
the marriage state would become master for life. It was 
customary, therefore, immediately on the conclusion of the 
ceremony, for both parties to rush to the well, which lies 
some distance from the church. On one occasion the 
husband determined to be the first to reach the well, so : — 

" ' I hastened as soon as the wedding was done, 
And left my wife in the porch, 
But in faith she had been wiser than me, 
For she took a bottle to church.' " 

In Wendron, on the farm of Trelill, is an interesting speci- 
men of these peculiar springs. The oratory is formed of 
granite slabs, and the roof, now shrouded with ivy, is of the 
same material. The only aperture to give light is a Gothic 
arched doorway inside. The water weeps from a fissure 
into a square granite basin about a foot square. From this 



it is conveyed through a channel under the floor into a 
river which runs down the neighbouring valley. On each 
side are stone benches, and over the spring is a niche in 
which was formerly placed a statue of the patroness, St. 
Mary the Virgin. 

Though superstitions and traditions are connected with 
these wells, many of the structures are fast falling into de- 
cay, and are little more than shapeless ruins. 

Probably the most famous amongst the many holy wells 
is that in Flintshire, which gives a name to a parliamentary 
borough and market town about sixteen miles north-west 
of Chester. The well is dedicated to St. Winifred, and has 
enjoyed a repute for certain alleged healing properties ever 
since the seventh century. There is a wild and utterly im- 
possible legend connected with its origin which need not be 
related. The well is inclosed in a Gothic building, which 
was erected in the reign of Henry VII., and forms a sort, of 
crypt under a small chapel close to the parish church. 
This building was put up by members of the Stanley 
family. The traditionary belief in the miraculous powers 
of the water has lasted to a comparatively recent date. 
James II. paid a visit to the shrine in 1688, and received 
for his pains the shift worn by his great-grandmother at 
her execution. Pennant, who wrote his tour in Wales in 
1784, found the roof of the vault hung with the crutches 
of grateful cripples. He says " the resort of pilgrims to 
these fontinalia has considerably decreased. The greatest 
number are from Lancashire. In the summer still a few 
are to be seen in the water, in deep devotion, up to their 
chins for hours, sending up their prayers, or performing a 
number of evolutions round the polygonal well, or threading 
the arches a prescribed number of times." 

In London there are various ancient wells which have re- 
tained their supernatural character later than most people 
imagine. For example, adjoining St. Brides, otherwise St. 


Bridget's, Churchyard, Fleet Street, London, is or was an old 
well dedicated to the saint, and commonly known as Bride- 
well. There was a palace near it which was given by 
Edward VI. to the City of London, as a poorhouse of cor- 
rection. From this has sprung the popular name of " Bride- 
well," to signify a prison. The last public use of the water 
of St. Brides' Well, to which certain special qualities were 
attached, drained it so much that the inhabitants of St. 
Brides' Parish could not get their usual supply. There was 
a sudden demand, Hone tells us, a day or two before July 19, 
1821, on which day George IV. was crowned at Westminster. 
Several men were engaged in filling thousands of bottles. 
Mr. Walker, of the hotel, 10 Bridge Street, Blackfriars, who 
was purveyor of water for the Coronation, obtained it by 
the only means through which the " sainted fluid " was then 
attainable— from the cast-iron pump over St. Brides' Well 
in Bride Lane. 

Another of the London wells which had a widespread 
reputation was that known as St. Chad's. This spring was 
in the neighbourhood of what was in former days known as 
Battle Bridge, i.e. somewhere up the Gray's Inn Road, 
starting from Holborn. This, too, had medicinal qualities t 
and was regarded in olden times as miraculous. It was 
situated in an inclosure, formerly called " The Garden," and 
as Hone tells us, was presided over by " The Lady of the 
Well," who appears to have been an female in a black bonnet, 
cotton gown, and check apron. St. Chad's Well was, as it 
would seem, a sort of subscription water. For a guinea a 
year a man might drink as much, or as little, or none at all, 
just as he pleased. For this privilege, covering shorter 
periods, he was required to pay nine and sixpence quarterly, 
four and sixpence monthly, and one and sixpence weekly. 
Failing this, he might qualify for a single visit by paying 
sixpence, for which a large tumbler of warm water was 
handed to him. All this took place at the beginning of th 


last century, and Hone, who while giving facts with toler- 
able accuracy, was by no means an infatuated believer in 
the miraculous, remarks, shrewdly enough, that chemists in 
these latter days can produce a draught as effectual as the 
virtues of St. Chad's Well at the small price of a half- 

While treating of this particular neighbourhood it is 
worth mentioning that the street which is now called 
King's Cross Road, and which is, to all intents and purposes, 
parallel to Gray's Inn Road on the eastern side, was for- 
merly known as Bagnigge's Wells Road. Doubtless there 
are some traditions about Bagnigge's Wells, but I never 
heard them. If anybody can enlighten me I shall be 

Holywell Street, by St. Mary's Church in the Strand, 
scarcely maintains the character suggested by its name, 
and it would require a considerable flush of holy water to 
wash away the impurity of the literary productions ex- 
hibited in the shop windows in that queer by-street. The 
street itself is soon to be a thing of the past, and happily 
so. The virtues of the holy well, from which it takes its 
name, have, so far, not proved efficacious. 

There are some strange ideas as to dropping pins into 
some of these holy wells, which have been practised until 
quite recent years. 

About a couple of hundred years ago a certain Dr. 
Knerden wrote about a holy well, once famous, dedicated 
to St. Helen, and situated near Brindle in Lancashire, to 
which the neighbouring people resorted each year upon St. 
Helen's Day (August 18). The Empress Helen was a 
native of Great Britain, and was the wife of Constantius, 
who distinguished himself during the time of persecution 
by protecting the Christians in every way that he could. 
The custom of those visiting the well was to throw in pins 
as an offering. I am quite unable to account for this. 


custom, but it was a very usual one. There is, I believe, 
another St. Helen's Well, near Sefton in West Lancashire, 
into which pins were formerly thrown by those who re- 
sorted to it. 

Mr. Charles Hardwick, in his " Traditions, Superstitions, 
and Folklore of Lancashire," refers to a contribution to 
Notes and Queries by " Seleucus," in which he speaks of a 
well in the Welsh peninsula of Gower in Glamorganshire. 
It is called the " Cefyn Bryn," or the Holy Well. He says 
it is still supposed to be under the special patronage of the 
Virgin Mary, and a crooked pin is the offering of every 
visitor to its sacred precincts. It is believed that if this 
pin is dropped in with fervent faith all the many pins 
which have been thrown into it may be seen rising from 
the bottom to meet the new one. 

Near Wooller in Northumberland is a spring known as 
the " Pin Well," into which country girls are wont to drop 
a crooked pin as they pass, and a similar well is situated in 
Westmoreland, where the like custom prevails. The idea 
in both places is that the well is in charge of a fairy, and 
that it is necessary to propitiate the little lady by a present 
of some sort ; and hence the pin as most convenient. It is 
made crooked for luck's sake ; crooked things being con- 
sidered, according to long-standing tradition, as lucky 
things, as our grandmothers were wont to carry crooked 
sixpences in their purses. 

As I stated above, a belief in the miraculous virtues of 
certain wells has been retained till comparatively modern 
times. Thus, a spring in connection with the ancient 
Abbey of Glastonbury, as Mr. Hardwick tells us, sustained 
its reputation for sanctity and for medical virtues until a 
very recent period. " In consequence of some astounding 
and, indeed, miraculous cures supposed to be effected by its 
agency, immense numbers of invalids flocked to it in the 
years 1750 and 1751. It. is said that in the month of May 


in the latter year 10,000 persons visited Glastonbury under 
the influence of this superstition." 

There seems to be a good deal of credulousness in the 
matter of special wells in Scotland, as witness the Craigie 
Well mentioned by Chambers. 1 His correspondent is 
rather vague as to its locality, but I believe it is in East 
Ross-shire, and I will briefly summarise what is said about 
the Craigie Well. 

The first Sunday morning in May is the day prescribed 
by tradition for the people to visit the well, and no one 
dreams of going there without bringing some sort of offer- 
ing, as it would be considered an insult to the " healing 
waters " to omit it. The intrinsic value of the present 
seems to be a matter of indifference, for on a briar bush 
close by were to be seen a number of scraps of cloth which 
were hung up there as offerings. 

The writer above-mentioned states that for more than a 
week before the morning appointed for this strange 
pilgrimage there is scarcely a word heard among farm- 
servants within five miles of the spot but the question: — 
" Are thee no ganging to Craigack Well to get thour 
health secured another year ? " He paid a visit to the 
place on one occasion in order to see how the pilgrims 
passed the Sunday morning there. Although he arrived 
an hour before sunrise, a number of people were already 
there, and numbers from all quarters were still pouring in. 
The people were eagerly pressing forward in order to get 
a drink at the well before the sun appeared, for the popular 
belief is that the water will otherwise have no beneficial 
effect. On the morning when the writer in the " Book of 
Days " was there an incident occurred which illustrated 
this belief. He says: — "The sun was now shooting up his 
first rays when all eyes were directed to the top of the 
brae, attracted by a man coming in great haste, whom all 
1 " Book of Days," vol. i., p. 638. 


recognised as Jack Forsyth, a very honest and pious, but 
eccentric individual. Scores of voices shouted, ' You are 
too late, Jock, the sun is i*ising ; surely you have slept this 
morning.' The newcomer, a middle-aged man with a droll 
squint, perspiring profusely, and out of breath, pressed, 
nevertheless, through the crowd, and stopped not till he 
reached the well. Then muttering a few inaudible words, 
he bent down on his knees and took a large draught. He 
then rose up and said — ' Lord, Thou knowest that weel 
would it be for me this day an I had stooped my knees and 
my heart before Thee in spirit and in truth as often as I 
have stoopit them afore this well, but we maun keep the 
custom of our fathers.' So he stepped aside among the 
rest, and dedicated his offering to the briar bush, which by 
this time could hardly be seen through the number of 
shreds which covered it." 

Since the above was written, there has, I understand, 
been a perceptible decrease in the numbers resorting to 
Craigie Well. 

As regards the offering of rags at holy wells, the Rev. 
J. T. Fowler tells me that there is a spring at Holy Well 
Dale, near Winterton, Lincolnshire, formerly celebrated for 
its healing properties, and the bushes around used to be 
hung with scraps of cloth as offerings from visitors. 

In olden times it was the custom in Wales, supposing 
that there was in the parish a well dedicated to a saint, to 
use the water from it on the occasion of a baptism. Brand 
tells us that such water, after it had been used for baptism, 
was believed to be good for sore eyes. 

As we have seen above, anything seems to have been 
good enough as an offering by persons visiting holy Wells. 
In the neighbourhood of Newcastle-on-Tyne, is a holy 
spring which used to be called " Ray Well." Not far off is 
Bede's Well. So late as the middle of the last century, it. 
was the custom to dip children in it if they were troubled 


with any bodily in6rmity. The fee to the well seems to 
have been scarcely commensurate with its supposed efficacy, 
for it consisted only of a crooked pin ! 

It appears that this resorting of people to holy wells 
did not find favour with the authorities of the Scottish 
establishment. Thus we learn from the session records, 
that in 1628 a number of persons were brought before the 
kirk session at Falkirk, and were accused of going to 
Christ's Well on the Sundays in May to seek their 
health, and the whole being found guilty were sentenced to 
repent " in linens " three several Sabbaths. " And it is 
statute and ordained that if any person or persons be found 
superstitiously and idolatrously, after this, to have passed 
in pilgrimage to Christ's Well on the Sundays in May to 
seek their health, they shall repent in sacco (sackcloth) and 
linen three several Sabbaths, and pay twenty lib (Scots) 
toties quoties for ilk fault, and if they cannot pay it the 
baillies shall be recommended to put them in ward, and to 
be fed on bread and water for aught days." 1 Hone adds, 
that for the preservation of the charm, the pilgrims were 
obliged to keep silence the whole time to and from the 
well, and not allow the vessel in which the water was to 
touch the ground. Mr. Robert Keir, who sent this extract, 
further notes that in 1657, a number of parishioners were 
summoned to the session for believing in the powers of the 
Well of Airth, a village about six miles north of Falkirk 
on the banks of the Forth ; and the whole were sentenced 
to be publicly rebuked for the sin. Then again, on Feb. 
3, 1757, and on subsequent days, eleven people were 
summoned before the kirk session for the crime of going 
to this same well to fetch water for the cure of their suffer- 
ing relations and friends. These people were all publicly 
admonished for " superstitious carriage." Nevertheless, 
early in this century, a farmer and his servant were known 
1 " Every Day Book," ii., 686. 


to travel fif t}' miles for the purpose of bringing water from 
•a charmed well in the Highlands to cure their sick cattle. 

Closely connected with the veneration with which holy 
wells were regarded, is the annual Well Dressing Festival 
at Tissington, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. This takes 
place on Ascension Day. I am sorry that I have never 
been present on this occasion, so that I might give a 
personal description of the ceremony. However, the vicar 
of Tissington has told me that the account given by an 
eye-witness in Chambers' " Book of Days " is sufficiently 
accurate, and that I may safely take it as the basis of my 

Chambers' volumes were published in 1866, and, no 
doubt, since then, tastefulness in the style of dressing the 
wells has improved, but judging from a print illustrating 
the mode of decoration five-and-thirty years ago, it must 
even then have been very effective. 

The writer above referred to, tells us that on the Holy 
Thursday he was at Tissington, and although he was there 
in good time, the village was full of visitors who had come 

© ' © 

from places many miles round to take part in the festival, 
and booths were erected to supply the rustics with nuts, 
■and gingerbread, and to3 T s. The church was crowded quite 
early, and large numbers of people were unable to get 
admission, but had to wait outside for that part of the 
•service which was conducted at the several wells. As soon 
as the sermon was ended the clergyman left the pulpit, and 
inarched into the village at the head of the procession 
"which was formed. After him came the band, then the 
family from the Hall, and their visitors, the rest of the 
congregation following. A halt was made at the first of 
the five wells, and I must give the rest of the ceremony in 
i;he writer's own words. He says: — 

" The name ' well ' scarcely gives a proper idea of these 
beautiful structures; they are rather fountains or cascades, 


the water descending from above, and not rising as in a. 
well. Their height varies from ten to twelve feet, and the 
original stone frontage is on this day hidden by a wooden 
erection in the form of an arch or some other elegant- 
design. Over these planks a layer of plaster of Paris is 
spread, and whilst it is wet, flowers without leaves are 
stuck in it forming a most beautiful mosaic pattern. On 
one the large yellow field ranunculus was arranged in 
letters, and so a verse of Scripture or of a hymn was 
recalled to the spectator's mind ; on another, a white dove 
was sculptured in the plaster and set in the ground- work 
of the humble violet ; the daisy which our poet Chaucer 
would gaze upon for hours together formed a diaper work 
of red and white ; the pale yellow primrose was set off by 
the rich red of the ribes ; nor were the coral berries of the 
holly, mountain ash, and yew forgotten. These are care- 
fully gathered and stored in the winter to be ready for the 
May Day Fete." 

Here I must interpose a passing remark to prevent mis- 
apprehension. Why the writer calls it a " May Day Fete " 
I know not. As a matter of fact Holy Thursday very 
rarely indeed falls on May Day, and if it did, the well- 
dressing could not be called a " May Day Fete," but an 
" Ascension Day Fete." From 1 866 to the present time 
(1893) Ascension Day has never once fallen on May 1. 
The next time that this will happen will be in 1913. But 
to return ; the writer goes on to say : — 

" It is scarcely possible to describe the vivid colouring 
and beautiful effect of these favourites of nature arranged 
in wreaths and garlands and devices of every hue, and 
then the pure sparkling water which pours down from the 
midst of them into the rustic moss-grown stones beneath 
completes the enchantment, and makes this feast of the- 
well -flowering one of the most beautiful of all the old 
customs that are left in merrie England." 


We now come to a description of the religious function 
which takes place by the wells. The writer says : — " The 
groups of country people and visitors, dressed in their 
holyday clothes, stood reverently round while the clergy- 
man read the first of the three psalms appointed for the 
day, and then gave out one of Bishop Heher's beautiful 
hymns, in which all joined with heart and voice. When 
this was over all moved forward to the next well where 
the next psalm was read and another hymn sung ; the 
Epistle and the Gospel being read at the last two wells. 
The service was now over, and the people dispersed to 
wander through the village and park which is thrown 
open. The cottagers vie with each other in showing hos- 
pitality to the strangers, and many kettles are boiled at 
their fires for those who have brought the materials for a 
picnic on the green. It is welcomed as a season of mirth 
and good fellowship, many old friends meeting then to 
separate for another year should they be spared to see the 
well-dressing again ; whilst the country people enjoy their 
games and country pastimes with their usual vivacity. 

From what the vicar, the Rev. James Fitzherbert, has 
told me, I do not think that this description is at all over- 
coloured. He assures me that the religious part of the 
ceremony is no modern introduction. He himself can 
vouch for its having been carried on for forty or fifty 
years ; and his uncle, Sir W. Fitzherbert, the squire of the 
parish, can remember it further back than that. The custom, 
he says, was in abeyance at one time by reason of certain 
religious differences of opinion, and anti-Popery agitation ; 
but these soon blew over, and the ceremony went on as 
before. Ascension Day is the greatest day in the whole 
year with these simple village folk. They clean their 
houses, paint their garden gates, and smarten up for weeks 
beforehand, and the vicar tells me that visitors who have 

1 "Book of Days," i., p. 596. 


never witnessed the well-dressing before have always ex- 
pressed their unbounded surprise at the beauty of the whole 

A word or two may properly be said as to the supposed 
origin of the well-dressing custom. It ma3 T , of course, be a 
Christianised survival of the old Roman usage of honouring 
religiously fountains and wells. There are, however, those 
who assign to the ceremony a more modern date. It seems 
that, in 1615, a fearful drought visited Derbyshire, and that 
no rain fell from March 25 to May 2. Then there was but 
one shower. Two more came between the latter date and 
August 4 . Thus the whole land was burnt up, yet the 
Tissington fountains, according to tradition, continued to 
flow during the time, so that people from ten miles round 
drove their cattle to drink of the Tissington wells. 

There are several other places in Derbyshire where the 
custom of well-dressing takes place ; but, if I mistake not, 
these are all more or less modern imitations of the Tissing- 
ton ceremony, and have no claim to be reckoned with it. 

Before I pass on to other matters, I will insert some 
pretty lines which have been written in honour of the 
Tissington Festival. 

" Still, Dovedale, yield thy flowers to deck the fountains 
Of Tissington upon its holyday ; 
The customs long preserved among the mountains 
Should not be lightly left to pass away. 

" They have their moral, and we often may 

Learn from them how our wise forefathers wrought, 
Whom they upon the public mind would lay 
Some weighty principle, some maxim brought 
Home to their hearts, the healthful product of deep thought." 

— Edwards. 



Although most cultured persons have a vague idea that 
some of our religious or quasi-religious customs may have 
their origin in distinctly heathen practices which existed 
before the Christian era, there are few, I take it, who could 
give distinct examples of heathen survivals of a more or 
less definite kind. Such instances, however, are to be 
found in our own day, and my object in this paper is to 
point out some of them. 

To begin with Devonshire. The Rev. A. T. Fryer, who 
was brought up in that county, tells me of a distinctly 
heathen sacrifice, only modernised, which is still kept up 
in the parish of King's Teignton, not far from Teignmouth, 
every Whitsuntide, an account of which is to be found in 
White's " Devonshire." It appears that on Whitsun Mon- 
day a lamb is drawn about the parish in a cart decorated 
with garlands of lilac, laburnum, and other flowers, and 
persons are requested to give something towards the ex- 
penses of the ceremonial. On Tuesday the lamb is killed 
and roasted whole in the middle of the village. It is said 
that formerly it was roasted in the bed of a stream which 
flows through the village, the water of which had been 
turned into a new channel temporarily in order that the 
bed of the stream might be cleansed. The lamb, when 
cooked, is sold in slices to the poor at a cheap rate. The 

precise origin of the custom is forgotten, but a tradition, 



evidently to be traced back to heathen days, is to this effect. 
The village at some remote period suffered from a dearth 
of water, and the inhabitants were advised by their priests 
to pray to the gods for water, whereupon water sprang up 
spontaneously in a meadow about a third of a mile above 
the village, in an estate now called Rydon, amply sufficient 
to supply the wants of the place, and at present adequate, 
even in a dry summer, to work three mills. A lamb, it is 
said, has ever since that time been sacrificed as a votive 
offering at Whitsuntide in the manner before mentioned. 
The said water appears like a large pond, from which, in 
rainy weather, may be seen jets of water springing up some 
inches above the surface in many parts. The place has 
been visited by numbers of different scientific bodies, and 
whether it is really a spring is still a vexed question. The 
general opinion appears to be that the real spring is on 
Haldon Hill, and that after flowing down to Lindridge it 
loses itself in the fissures of the lime rock which abounds 
in the neighbourhood through which it flows ; when it, 
meets with some impediment it bursts up through the soft 
meadow ground at Bydorj, where it has ever had the name 
of " Fair Water." 

Another Devonshire sacrificial custom, evidently having 
its origin in pagan times, is recorded by " An Old Holne 
Curate." He says that at Holne, on Dartmoor, the youno- 
men, before daybreak on May Day, assemble and seize a 
ram lamb on the moor. This they fasten to a certain 
granite pillar, kill it, and roast it whole. At mid-day they 
scramble to get slices of it to secure good luck for the 
ensuing year. The day ends with dancing, wrestling, 

At Prestonpans, half a century ago, it was customary for 
the fishermen to set sail on a Sundaj-. A clergyman in 
the town was believed to be in the habit of praying against 
what he regarded as their " Sabbath breaking," but to pre- 


vent any injury accruing from his prayer the fishermen 
■used to offer a burnt sacrifice, the victim being an image of 
rags, which was burnt on the top of their chimneys. 

The following is a tolerably strong example of the sur- 
vival of a distinctly heathen sacrifice, and when names and 
localities are given, as in this case, the most sceptical must 
accept it as true in fact : — 

Mr. Henderson wrote his " Folklore of the Northern 
■Counties " in 1879, and he says : — " Not fifteen years ago 
a herd of cattle in the county of Moray being attacked 
with murrain, one of them was sacrificed by burying alive 
■as a propitiatory offering for the rest ; and I am informed 
by Professor Morecco that a live ox was burnt near Halt- 
whistle in Northumberland only twenty years ago with 
the same intent. A. similar observance has also lingered on 
•among the Celtic population of Cornwall almost, if not 
quite, to the present day." It is somewhat startling to read 
of an ox being offered as a burnt sacrifice in England in 
our own times after fifteen or more centuries of Christianity. 
But Mr. Henderson gives other examples of similar doings. 
They appear, however, to be commoner in Scotland than in 
England. The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, as I am informed, 
has stated that in building a new bridge at Halle, which 
was completed in 1843, the people wanted to have a child 
immured in the foundation to ensure its stability, so the 
idea of even human sacrifices can scarcely be said to be 
extinct in civilised Europe. 

Professor J. Y. Simpson, M.D., in his notes on some 
■" Scottish Charm Stones," printed in the Proceedings of the 
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, states that he knows 
of two localities in the Lowlands, one near Biggar in 
Lanarkshire, and the other near Torpichcn in West 
Lothian, where, within the memory of the past and present 
generation, living cows have been sacrificed for curative 


purposes, or under the hope of arresting the murrain in 
other members of the herd. In both these cases the cow- 
was sacrificed by being buried alive. 

In the Record Office, vol. ccxxiv., No. 74, under date 1589, 
is a letter from one Price giving information of gross 
idolatry in Wales. He says that bullocks were offered to 
idols, and that he saw a young man drive one through a 
little porch into the churchyard, and heard him cry out,. 
" Thy half to God and to Beyno." This was in the parish 
of Clynnog, about fifteen miles from Bangor. He repre- 
sents people as being afraid to cut down trees growing on 
Beyno's ground, lest he should kill them. 

Sir J. Emerson Tennant, writing in 1852, notes that in 
Lord Rodin's recently published book, entitled "Progress 
of the Reformation in Ireland," there appears a curious 
form of fetichism still existing in Inniskea, an island off 
the coast of Mayo, with about three hundred and eighty 
inhabitants, amongst whom his lordship says: — "A stone 
carefully wrapped in flannel is brought out at certain periods 
to be adored, and when a storm arises, this god is suppli- 
cated to send a wreck on their coast. It is added that 
whenever the aid of this stone god is sought, a flannel 
dress is dedicated to it. This is sewed on by an old woman, 
its priestess. 

The following is a curious instance of the survival, in a 
fashion, of the ancient Baal worship. A correspondent to 
Notes and Queries states that the late Lady Baird, of Fern- 
tower, Perthshire, told him that every year on the first of 
May a number of men and women assemble at a Druidical 
circle of stones on her property at Crieff. They light a fire 
in the centre, and each person puts a bit of oat cake into a 
shepherd's bonnet ; they all sit down, and draw blindfold 
a piece of cake from the bonnet. One piece has been pre- 
viously blackened, and whoever gets that piece has to jump 
through the fire or pay a forfeit. This is, in fact, a remnant 


still surviving of the ancient worship of Baal, and the 
person on whom the lot fell would originally have been 
burnt as a sacrifice. Now, passing through the fire is 
taken to represent such a sacrifice, and the payment of the 
forfeit is considered as the redemption of the victim from 
the extreme penalty. 

In a letter which I received some years ago from the 
Rector of Charlcombe, Bath, and which is now before me, 
he told me that in the County Donegal it was the custom 
to pass an infant across the back and under the belly of a 
donkey in order to avert measles. What the origin of this 
could be I am unable to guess. He further stated in his 
letter that in the same county the peasants used to drive 
their cattle between two fires to keep off disease. This 
last, said my correspondent, was certainly a remnant of 
the ancient heathen festival of Baal, or Baal Tinne" (in that 
parish there was a town land, Beltany, close to which was 
a Druidical stone circle), kept about December 23, when 
large bonfires were lighted for purposes of fire-worship, and 
cattle driven through or between the fires to keep them 
safe from plague. 

The following paragraph appeared in the Pall Mall 
Gazette on June 29, 1867 :— 

" The accounts given by the Irish newspapers of the 
extent to which the old superstition of fire-lighting on 
Midsummer Eve still prevails show how slowly the relics 
of paganism disappear among country people, and how 
natural it was that the old idolatries should come at last 
to be known as the Creed of the Pagana, the dwellers in 
villages. These Midsummer fires lighted annually upon 
the hills are simply relics of the worship of Bel. Bel- 
tane or Belteine Day is still a May Day or Midsummer 
festival in the more ignorant districts of Scotland as well as 
of Ireland ; and similar superstitious practices are connected 


with the lighting of the fires, and, what is still more re- 
markable, the word is still used in some Scotch almanacs, 
as a term well known to everybody. In a number of the 
Scotsman a few j'ears ago appeared an announcement that, 
on Beltane Day, Mr. Robertson was elected as Convener of 
the Trades, in Canongate, in Edinburgh. The next year the 
following is to be found — ' On Beltane Day, the weavers, 
dyers, etc., of the Canongate, elected their office-bearers.' " 

Mr. Charles Hardwick, in his " Traditions, Superstitions, 
and Folklore," gives some instances of the strange sur- 
vival of Baal-worship. He cites the following from 
Grimm : — " In consequence of a disease amongst the black 
cattle, the people agreed to perform an incantation, though 
they esteemed it a wicked thing. They carried to the top 
of Carnmoor a wheel and nine spindles, long enough to 
produce fire by friction. If the fire were not produced be- 
fore noon, the incantation lost its effect. They failed for 
several days running. They attributed this failure to the 
obstinacy of one householder, who would not let his fires 
be put out for what he considered a wrong purpose. How- 
ever, by bribing his servants, they contrived to get them 
extinguished, and on that morning raised their fire. They 
then sacrificed a heifer, cutting in pieces and burning, 
while yet alive, the diseased part. They then lighted their 
own hearths from the pile, and ended by feasting on the 
remains. Words of incantation were repeated by an old 
man from Morven, who came as master of the ceremonies, 
and continued speaking all the time the fire was being 
raised. Asked to repeat the spell, he said that the sin of 
repeating it once had brought him to beggary, and that he 
dared not say those words again." 

Another curious instance of these pagan survivals is 
given by Mr. Hardwick on the authority of Mr. T. T. 
Wilkinson, who states that a Lancashire man whom he 


knew had " unconsciously resorted to the old worship of 
Baal, and consumed a live calf in a fire, in order to counter- 
act the influence of his unknown enemies. It would ap- 
pear that this unhappy victim of malice had resorted to 
this heathen sacrifice as a last resource, for he had, as we 
are told, previously nailed horse-shoes to all his doors, but 
without effect." 

So late as the latter portion of last century the records 
of the Presbytery of Dingwall in Ross-shire show that in 
the island of Innis Maree, in Loch Maree, bulls were 
offered up as a sacrifice, and milk offered on the hill-side 
as a libation. A hundred years previously, i.e. in 1678, 
the Presbytery took action against some of the Mackenzie 
family for " sacrificing a bull in a heathenish manner in 
the island of St. Rufus, for the recovery of the health of 
Cirstane Mackenzie, who was formerly sick and vale- 
tudinarie." And to come down almost to the present time, 
we are told by Mr. Robert Hunt in his " Drolls, Traditions 
and Superstitions of Old Cornwall," published in 1865, 
that within the last few years a calf has been thus sacri- 
ficed by a farmer in a district where churches, chapels, and 
schools abound. He afterwards adds, " While correcting 
these sheets I am informed of two recent instances of this 
superstition. One of them was the sacrifice of a calf by a 
farmer near Pontreath for the purpose of removing a 
disease which had long followed his horses and cows. The 
other was the burning of a living lamb to save, as the 
farmer said, his flock from spells which had been east on 

The Cornish gentleman who sent me the interesting in- 
formation concerning certain of the holy wells in his 
county has written for me the following paragraphs rela- 
tive to the Beltane survival in Cornwall : — 

" The peculiar form of worshipping the Druidical deity 


Belus, the sun, is retained in Cornwall on St. John's Day 
under the name of Bel Tan or Bel Tein. Large bonfires 
are kindled on the tops of the high hills, on June 24, and 
on the following day, and the country people amuse them- 
selves with excursions on the water. It appears to be a 
remnant of an ancient Druidic festival instituted to im- 
plore the friendly influence of Heaven on the fields, com- 
pounded with that of May 1, when the Druids kindled 
large fires on all their sacred places, such as Cam Bre, 
Carnmerellis, Calvadnack, etc., and on the tops of the 
cairns in honour of Bel, or Betinus, the name by which 
they distinguished the sun whose revolving course had 
again clothed the earth with beauty and diffused joy and 
gladness throughout creation. 

" If we reflect upon the rooted animosity which sub- 
sisted between Roman and Druid, and that the latter on 
being expelled from their former residences formed, 
together with the miserable remnant of the Britons, an 
asylum in the naturally fortified parts of the island, we 
shall not be surprised at their customs having been faintly 
handed down through such a long succession of ages. 
That Cornwall was their retreat is sufficiently proved by 
the numberless remains of circular temples, countless 
cairns, bronze metal pillars, and beehive huts. It may, 
therefore, be clearly inferred that in this remote situation 
their observances were strictly carried out, and that the 
corrupted ceremonies we still practise are faint memorials 
of our British forefathers." 



After what has been just written, showing the extent to 
which the survival of heathen sacrifices has reached in 
quite modern times, it seems the natural thing to consider 
the question of popular religious superstitions. But, as a 
preface to that part of our inquiry, an instance or two 
illustrative of the ignorance which still exists in country 
places upon religious matters may be useful. 

The following has been sent me. A clergyman was 
appointed to a benefice some twenty years ago, where 
matters connected with the Church had been conducted in 
a very rough and ready style. When the first great 
festival occurred he was naturally anxious that the parish 
church should be decorated with some sort of taste, in 
place of having sprigs of evergreens poked in anywhere. 
Thus, round the font was placed a legend in Old English 
letters — perhaps not very easy for the rustics to decipher — 
" One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism." It so happened 
that there were three large landowners in the parish, and 
the old clerk, who had regarded the whole proceeding with 
suspicion, as an encroachment upon his province, said, 
pointing to the font, " Well, at anyrate the squires will 
like that." The words were read to him. " Oh ! " he 
replied, " I thought it was ' One L., one F., one S.,' " men- 
tioning each of the landed proprietors by name. 

It is difficult to conceive anything more directly illustra- 
tive of the principles of popular Protestantism than this- 

2 93 


Even in a church the first idea was the glorification of the 
parochial notabilities; the last was the possibility of the 
decoration of the font relating to God, and His revelation 
and glory. 

The next illustration is even more telling. About the 
middle of this century a church was built in a certain 
parish which had overgrown the accommodation provided 
by the old church. The donor of the new building was a 
certain retired tradesman, who by diligence had amassed a 
considerable fortune. We will call him at random Isaac 
Starkey. On the altar was a frontal bearing the sacred 
monogram I. H. S. There was a good deal of interest 
excited by the new church, and when it was opened a 
number of people went to see it. Among these was a lady 
of high social position. After looking round the interior of 
the building, and admiring this and that, she said, " Yes, 
the general effect is very nice, but there is one thing that I 
don't like." Looking towards the east end she added, " It 
was rather ostentatious of Mr. Starkey to put his initials 
in so prominent a place, and I didn't know that he had any 
other Christian name besides Isaac." 

After this example of ignorance, which is strictly true, 
my readers will have no difficulty in accepting what I have 
to relate about popular superstitions which have remained 
as relics of past ages. 

The following appeared in a Welsh magazine about 
thirty years ago, and I am indebted to the Rev. D. 
Silvan Evans, of Llanwrin Rectory, Machynlleth, for the 
translation : — 

" Down to the last hundred years it was usual in many a 
district in Wales to burn candles in the parish church on 
the eve of All Souls, with a view of ascertaining what 
fortune would happen to the inquirers during the succeed- 
ing twelve months. These, consisting for the most part of 


young women, resorted after dark to the church, each 
carrying a candle with her. At the appointed hour all the 
candles were lighted by the sexton, whose presence and 
services on the occasion were considered indispensable. 

" The act of lighting the candles was accompanied by 
every expression of gravity and earnestness, and the young 
women watched with the greatest anxiety their respective 
candles to see how they burned. If a candle burned 
brightly and clearly it augured favourably for its owner, 
and signified that prosperity and happiness would be her 
lot. If it burned slowly and gloomily, and in an irregular 
or crackling manner, then the person whose property it 
was would surely meet with trouble and misfortunes of 
various kinds. If, however, the candle went out before it 
had burned to the socket, then its owner was regarded as 
about to die in the course of the year ; and, as little doubt 
had they on the subject as if the Angel of Death were seen 
at that moment sealing her fate. 

" But not only did they observe the general manner in 
which the candles burned, or draw prognostications from 
the light of each as a whole, but they marked carefully 
how each portion burned, and these portions were sup- 
posed to represent the different parts of the year, so that 
they pretended to divine the various phases of their lives 
during the ensuing twelve months. 

" When the last candle was burnt out they all left the 
church, and, having walked two or three times round the 
building, they proceeded homewards to bed, without utter- 
ing a single word to anyone. Not a syllable was to be 
spoken from the time of their quitting the church until 
they awoke on the following morning. If they had spoken 
to anyone the whole charm would at once have been 
broken, and all their labour would have been utterly lost. 
During their sleep on that night their lovers would 
appear to them, even those whom they should wed when' 


the time was fulfilled which had been foretold by the 


It is this custom which Ellis Wynne refers to in his 
"Visions of the Sleeping Bard," first published in 

Sometimes these candle divinations were attended with 
melancholy, and occasionally with ludicrous results. 

Once in a church at Llangian, near Pwllheli, where my 
informant was curate for ten years, the candle of a young 
woman from the neighbourhood happened to go out when 
it was only half burnt. She implicitly accepted the omen, 
and took the whole affair to heart so much that she would 
not be comforted, and in less than three weeks she was a 

In the same church, on a similar occasion, the following 
occurrence took place : — When all the diviners were in 
church, and all the candles on the point of burning out, a 
wag from the village resolved to go and frighten the 
■credulous women. Accordingly he dressed himself in a 
white sheet, and proceeded, under cover of the darkness, 
towards the church door. The ground outside was much 
higher than the floor of the church, to reach which it was 
necessary to descend two or three steps. Having arrived 
■at the door, the man leaned his back against it, that he 
anight be prepared to encounter the women on their egress. 
The door was unfastened, and yielded to the weight of his 
person, and backwards he tumbled with a heavy crack into 
the church. If the divining women were terrified, much 
more was he himself, and hurt too. The bruises which he 
received from his fall compelled him to keep his bed for 
several weeks afterwards, and the annals of the village do 
not tell us that he ever repeated his experiment. 

In some districts it was usual to observe these ceremonies 
on the eves of the parish festivals or wakes, instead of 


All Saints' Eve, and on these occasions the women some- 
times offered a few pence to the patron saint. 

Having spoken of the village " Wake," it may be well to 
state here that originally it was held on the day of the 
saint to whom the church was dedicated, but as these fes- 
tivities were often badly conducted, Convocation passed an 
Act in 1536 to restrain them, and to diminish their number. 
The Dedication Festival was ordered to be observed only 
on the first Sunday in October. Hence the severance of 
the wake from the day of the patron saint. Upon this sub- 
ject reference may be made to Hazlitt's edition of Brand, 
vol. iii. 3. In illustration of this, the Rev. A. Atkinson, 
Vicar of Audlem, Cheshire, has written as follows : — " Our 
Saints' Day is St. James' (July 25), but our village wake 
is held early in October, ' Wake Sunday ' being that 
nearest to October 2, and the wake is held on the week 

The same gentleman who was kind enough to send me 
the account of the divination by candles, related above, has 
-also told me that in some parts of Wales there is a strange 
idea prevailing amongst the people that if a person goes 
alone to the church door just before midnight on the last 
night of the year, and puts his ear to the keyhole, a voice 
from within will inform him of the principal occurrences 
which will take place in the parish in the course of the year 
which is about to begin. These will chiefly relate to mar- 
riages and deaths. Should he take anybody with him 
when he goes to listen, no revelation will be made to him. 

In the parish of Marston St. Lawrence, Northamptonshire, 
there used to be a notion very prevalent that rainwater 
collected on Holy Thursday was of powerful efficacy in all 
diseases of the eyes. 

Another curious idea in connection with Ascension Day 
was related by a correspondent to the Echo newspaper of 
Hay 24, 1879. He wrote as follows : — 


" On Thursday (Ascension Day) the Bethesda Slate Quar- 
ries were entirely closed, not, however, out of respect to the 
religious character of the day, but in deference to a super- 
stition which has lingered for many years amongst the 
Penrhyn quarrymen, that working on Ascension Day was- 
sure to be attended with a fatality or accident of a serious 
character. Some six years back, the management suc- 
ceeded in partly overcoming this feeling, and several of the- 
men worked, an arrangement which was continued about 
two years. Strange to say, there was always an accident, 
and Ascension Day continues to be an idle day so far as 
the Penrhyn quarrymen are concerned." 

Most people have heard by tradition of the divination 
by Bible and Key. Here is a curious instance mentioned 
by a correspondent to Notes and Queries, who wrote from 
Godalming : — " When any article is supposed to have been 
stolen, a Bible is produced, and opened at the first chapter 
of Ruth. The stock of the street door key is placed on the 
sixteenth verse of the above chapter, the handle protruding 
from the edge of the Bible, and the key is secured in this, 
position by a string bound tightly round the book. The 
person who works the charm then places his two middle 
fingers under the handle of the key, and this keeps the 
Bible suspended. He then repeats in succession the names 
of the persons suspected of the theft, quoting at each name 
a portion of the verse on which the key is placed, begin- 
ning, ' Whither thou goest I will go,' etc. When the name 
of the guilty person is pronounced, the key turns off 
the finger, and the Bible falls to the ground. Thus the 
guilt of the supposed thief is determined. The belief of 
some of the more ignorant of the lower orders in this- 
charm is unbounded. I have seen," says the writer, " this 
practised in other counties, the key being placed over Pro- 
verbs xix. 5." 


In Brand's book (ed. Ellis) it is stated that the key was 
placed upon Psalm cl. 

The Vicar of Godalming has told me that he has not 
heard of any such custom in his parish ; but yet I have no 
right to suppose that the usage may not have been as 
stated by the writer quoted above. 

Somewhat akin to this is a custom which used to be 
common in Suffolk, and which possibly exists in out of the 
way places still. On New Year's Eve it was the practice to 
open a Bible at midnight, and to stick a piu into the page 
at haphazard. The verse indicated by the pin was sup- 
posed to show whether the experimenter would have good 
or bad luck during the incoming year. 

We will now pass on to consider the popular superstitions 
which cluster round the Holy Eucharist. 

Mr. Henderson says that a belief in the efficacy of the 
sacred Species in the Eucharist for the cure of bodily disease 
is widely spread throughout the north. A clergyman has 
informed him that he knows of one Element having been 
secreted for that purpose, and that he has found it 
necessary to watch persons who appeared to have such 
an intention. 

A clergyman at Birmingham wrote to me only last year 
to say that at a parish in Kent, where his father is rector, 
" there is a superstition that if, instead of eating the Sacra- 
mental Bread it is taken away and a walk taken with it 
three times round the church, the devil will be encountered 
at the end of the third journey, who will ask for the Bread; 
having received which, the giver is completely in his power 
for the remainder of his life." 

After such a grossly sacrilegious act I can quite believe 
that the popular idea would come true. 

It is evident that abominations of this kind were not 
uncommon in pre-Reformation days, otherwise how are we 


to interpret the meaning of the following rubric in Edward 
VI.'s First Prayer Book ? 

" And although it be redde in auncient writers that the 
people many yeares past received at the Priestes handes the 
Sacrament of the Body of Christ in theyr owne handes. 
and no commandment of Christ to the contrary : Yet for- 
asmuche as they many tymes conveyehed the same 
secretelye awaye, kept it with them, and diversly abused 
it to the supersticion and wickednes : lest any suche thynge 
hereafter should be attempted, and that an uniformitie 
might bo used throughoute the whole Real me : it is thought 
convenient the people commonly receive the Sacrament of 
Christes body, in their mouthes, at the Priestes hande." 

A Herefordshire clergyman tolls me that he recently had 
a request from a Dissenter for what the applicant called 
"A Sacrament Shilling" — i.e. a shilling given during the 
offertory at Holy Communion — to buy a ring to cure a girl 
of fits. The shilling was to be paid for in coppers. 

To show how widely spread this idea was, yet with a 
slight variation in the matter of practical detail, we will 
go to Lincolnshire. The vicar of a parish in that county 
has told me that he was once asked by a woman, who was 
a Primitive Methodist, to give her a shilling of " Sacra- 
ment Money " (as she called it) in exchange for another 
shilling, because her son had epileptic fits, and she had 
heard that if a "Sacrament piece of silver" were hung 
round his neck it would cure him. 

From the east of England we will turn westwards. The 
late Colonel Bagnall, when he was churchwarden of West 
Bromwich, told me, some ten years ago, that there, until 
quite lately, it was the custom for rheumatic people to 
apply to the vicar for a " Sacrament shilling " to rub on 
the limb where the pain was in order to cure it. 


In Hampshire, also, writes Mr. F. M. Middleton, the 
country people believe that a healing power exists in the 
alms collected at the Holy Communion. 1 

One more instance from a place far distant from the last. 
A lady residing near Shrewsbury has written to me to say 
that she remembers a woman, a churchwoman this time, I 
presume, whose child was afflicted with fits, coming to her and 
saying that if the parson would but give her a " Sacrament 
shilling " it would cure him directly. She would make a 
hole in it, and hang it round his neck, and he would 
never have, another fit. 

To pass on to other supposed curative agencies. It is 
probable that the following usage will be new to most of 
my readers. 

In one of the principal towns in Yorkshire, at the be- 
ginning of the present century, it was the practice of 
persons in what is called a " respectable " class of life, to 
take their children when afflicted with whooping-cough to 
a neighbouring convent, where the priest allowed them to 
drink a small quantity of holy water out of a silver chalice, 
which the little sufferers were forbidden to touch. This was 
regarded as a remedy by Roman Catholic and Protestant 
parents alike. 2 

Mr. Henderson tells us of a piece of one of the statues on 
the west front of Exeter Cathedral, having been knocked 
off within the last thirty years or so. This was in order 
that the stone might be pounded up and mixed with lard 
to make an ointment for the supposed cure of sores. It 
was called " Peter's Stone," and a man is known to have 
walked from Teignmouth, a distance of eighteen miles at 
least, and to have flung stones at the figures until he 

1 Notes and Queries, Dec, 24, 1853. 
- Ibid., March 22, 1851. 


brought down the arm of one of them, in order to get the 
stone for the above purpose. 1 

A somewhat similar piece of credulous Vandalism 
formerly took place in the church of Penmynydd, in con- 
nection with a fourteenth century tomb of alabaster. The 
relic has been seriously damaged by the inhabitants, who 
believed that portions of it, when ground, were good for 
sore eyes. 2 

Here is another instance. At Clynnog church, in the 
diocese of Bangor, there is a chapel dedicated to St. Benno, 
the founder, to which attaches the belief that the powdered 
scrapings of the stone columns are efficacious as a sovereign 
cure in cases of eye disease. A pinch of this powder is 
added to a bottle of spring water, and thus a collyrium is 
made, which is duly applied with all faith in its healing 
virtues. 3 

Some kind friend has sent me a cutting from Notes and 
Queries, but has merely mentioned that it appeared in 
1882. As I have not the volume at hand I cannot give the 
exact reference. It relates to a bit of Surrey church 
folklore in connection with a supposed remedy for 

The writer says that the other day he inquired of his 
farm man the reason of the carter's boy's absence. The 
man replied, " He has got the shingles, and I have told his 
father to get the coomb (as he pronounced it) off the church 
bells, and rub the boy with it. They say it is the best 
thing for it." He then added, " If the shingles meets all 
round you it's most sure to kill you." The writer ex- 
presses his regret that the father did not follow the 
advice, but cured the boy with the more commonplace 
remedy of ink. The coomb, as the farm bailiff called it, is 

1 " Folklore," p. 156. 

2 Arclmologkal Journal, vol. i., p. 127 (1845). 

3 Notes and Queries, Nov. 15, 1873. 


a sort of secretion of moss which gathers on old bells when 
they are exposed to damp. 

I believe that I am correct in saying, that as a matter of 
fact, the shingles, though a troublesome malady, never do 
entirely compass the body of the person who is attacked by 
them ; and even if they did, I cannot see that any serious 
mischief would be likely to ensue. 

A lady at Torquay, who has been good enough to send 
me some valuable notes relative to church folklore, has 
told me that at Morchard Bishop in North Devon a cup of 
dew collected in the churchyard on May morning was 
formerly thought good for a person in consumption. She 
remembers an instance in which it was obtained and 

In a former chapter mention was made of the custom in 
the north of England of carrying round " Advent Images." 
These dressed dolls were surrounded with evergreen leaves, 
■and everybody to whom the figures were shown was 
allowed to take a leaf. This was carefully preserved, and 
was regarded as a sovereign remedy for toothache. 

The " touching " for the king's evil or scrofula, ought, by 
right, to have come first amongst what are commonly 
called the " Healing Superstitions," which were current 
amongst our forefathers. It will, I believe, interest some 
•of my readers if I give the text of the service, which, with 
more or less variation was commonly used. The version 
which I print is that given by Maskell in his Monumenta 
Jtitualia. But it may be interesting if I first give a few 
details respecting this odd bit of old-world credulousness. 

It is said that Clovis was the first monarch who adopted 
this method in 481, and the use was continued at intervals. 
The first who practised it in England was Edward the 
Confessor, in 1058. Henry II. " touched," and so did 
Edward II., and Edward III., and Richard II. Henry 
VII. revived the custom, and Henry VIII. continued it. 


And so, onwards. Charles II. seems to have been a most 
skilful manipulator, and he is said to have "touched" 
92,107 persons .during his reign, most of whom, according 
to the king's physician, were cured. Queen Anne seems to 
have been the last who administered the royal "touch." 
George I. believed in very little, and least of all in the efficacy 
of the royal privilege of curing scrofula, and the practice has 
been abandoned since 1714. 

The following form is believed to be the one used by 
Henry VII. It was reprinted as it stands below " by His 
Majesty's command in 1686." Mr. Maskell tells us that 
" the form, entirely in English, prayers as well as rubrics, 
occur often in the Common Prayer Books of the reigns of 
Charles I. and II., James II. and Queen Anne. It was 
also printed separately in the reign of James II. These 
English forms all vary, and a new one appears to have 
been drawn up for each sovereign. Bishop Sparrow 
reprinted that of the reign of Charles II." 

The form is as follows : — 

The Ceremonies for the healing of them that be 
diseased with the king's evil, as they were prac- 
tised in the reign of klng henry vii. 

First the king, kneeling, shall begin and say : 

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. 

And so soon as he hath said this he shall say : 


The chaplain, kneeling before the king, having a stole 
about his\neck, shall answer and say : 

Dominus sit in corde tuo et labiis tuis, ad confitendum 
omnia peccata tua ; in Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus 
Sancti. Amen. 

Or else to say : 


Jesus nos exaudiat, in Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus 
Sancti. Amen. 

Then by and by the king shall say : 

Confiteor Deo, beatse Marise Virgini, omnibus Sanctis, et 
vobis, quia peccavi nimis in cogitatione, locutione, et opere, 
mea culpa. Precor sanctam Mariam, omnes sanctos Dei, et 
vos orare pro me. 

The chaplain shall answer and say : 

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus et dimittat vobis 
omnia peccata vestra, liberet vos ab omni malo, salvet et 
connrmet in bono, et ad vitam perducat eternam. Amen. 

Absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum ves- 
trorum, spatium vero psenitentise et emendationem vitse, 
gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus, tribuat vobis 
omnipotens et miseracors Dominus. Amen. 

This done, the chaplain shall say : 

Dominus vobiscum. 

The king shall answer : 

Et cum spiritu tiio. 

The chaplain : 

Sequentia sancti evangelii secundum Marcum. 

The king shall answer : 

Gloria tibi Domine. 

The chaplain shall read the gospeV 

In illo tempore. Recumbentibus undecem discipulis . . 
nocebit. Super segros manus imponent, et bene habebunt. 

Which clause, Super aegros, etc., the chaplain repeats as 
long as the king is handling the sick person. And in the 
time of the repeating the aforesaid words, Super gegros, etc., 
the clerk of the closet shall kneel before the king, having the 
sick person upon the right hand, and the sick person shall 
likewise kneel before the king ; and the king shall lay his 
hand upon the sore of the sick person. 

This done, the chaplain shall make an end of the gospel ; 

!St. Markxvi. U-18. 



and in the meantime the chirurgeon shall lead away the 
sick person from the king? 

Et Dominus quidem Jesus, postquam . . . sequentibus 

Then the chaplain shall begin to say again : 
Dominus vobiscura. 

The king shall answer : 

Et cum spiritu tuo. 

The chaplain : 

Initium sancti evangelii secundum Ioannem. 

The king shall say : 

Gloria tibi Domine. 

The chaplain shall then say this gospel following : 

In principio erat Verbum ... in hunc mundum. 

Which last clause, Erat lux vera, etc., shall still be re- 
peated so long as the king shall be crossing the sore of the 
sick person with an Angel Noble ; and the sick person to 
have the same angel hanged about his neck, and to wear it 
■until he be full whole. 

This done, the chirurgeon shall lead away the sick per- 
son as he did before ; and then the chaplain shall make an 
end to the gospel. 

In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum f actus est ; . . . . 
plenum gratite et veritatis. 

Then the chaplain shall say : 

Sit nomen Domini benedictum. 

The king shall answer : 

Et hoc nunc, et usque in saeculum. 

Then shall the chaplain say this collect following, pray- 
ing for the sick person or persons : 

Domine exaudi orationem meam. 

The king- shall answer : 

Et clamor meus ad te veniat. 


1 St. Mark xvi. 19. 


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, salus eterna credentium, 
exaudi nos pro famulis tuis, pro quibus miseracordio tuo 
imploramus auxilium, ut reddita tibi sanitate, gratiarum 
tibi in ecclesia tua referent actiones. Per Christum Do- 
minum nostrum. Amen. 

This prayer is to be said secretly after the sick persons 
are departed from, the king, at his pleasure : 

Dominator Domine, Deus omnipotens, cujus benedigni- 
tate, coeci vident, surdi audiunt, muti loquentur, claudi am- 
bulant, leprosi mundantur, omnes infirm orum curantur 
languores, et a quo solo donurn sanitationis humano generi 
etiam tribuitur, et tanta gratia pro incredibili tua erga hoc 
regnum bonitate, regibus ejusdem eoncessa est, at sola 
manuum illorum impositione, morbus gravissimus fceditissi- 
musque depellatur, concede propitius ut tibi propteria 
gratias agamus, et pro isto singular! beneficio in nos collato 
non nobis ipsis, sed nomini tuo assidue gloriam demus, 
nosque sic ad pietatam semper exerceamus, ut tuam nobis 
donatam gratiam non solum diligenter conservare, sed in 
dies magis magisque adaugere laboremus, et proesta, ut 
quorum cunque corporibus, in nomine tuo manus imposuiro- 
mus, hac tua virtute in illis operante et nobis ministrantibus. 
ad pristinam sanitatem restituantur, earn conservent, et pra 
eadem tibi, ut summo medico efc omnium morborum depul- 
sori, perpetuo nobis cum gratias agant : sicque deinceps- 
vitain instituant ut non corpus solum ab infirmitate, sed 
anima etiam a peccato omnino sanata videatur. Per Domi- 
num nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum 
vivit et regnat in unitate Sancti Spiritus per omnia scecula 
soeculorum. Amen. 

Having dealt with certain superstitious usages in cases 
of sickness, two or three of those connected with death will 
be interesting. The following is odd enough, an M.D. 
writes : — " An old woman of my acquaintance who acted 


as beadle, or ' bobber ' of a churcb once brought to the bed 
of a dying person some of the sweepings of the floor by 
the altar to ease and shorten a very lingering death." 1 

The Vicar of Winchcombe has stated to me that about 
three years ago an old woman died of dropsy in his parish. 
As her body swelled to a great extent, one of the family 
was sent to the sexton to ask for a small piece of turf from 
the old churchyard to place on her body to prevent it 
swelling any more. He was very particular that the turf 
should be taken from the old churchyard, now disused, 
and not from the new burying-place, which had been open 
for some twenty-five years or more. His request was 

Here is another curious idea. A contributor to Notes 
and Queries states that when he was at Charlcombe, near 
Bath, in 1852, the parish clerk requested the loan of the 
Paten from the clergyman. Being asked for what purpose, 
he said he wanted it to put salt in it, and to lay it on the 
breast of a dying person to make him die easier. 

A medical man whilst in practice at Howden in 
Northumberland was called in some years ago to prescribe 
for an infant suffering from the sins of its progenitors. It 
was supposed to be fast passing away, and he found the 
little one with a lighted candle in its hand, held there by 
the mother. What could be the meaning of this ? From 
a letter written to Sir Thomas Chaloner in the latter half 
of the sixteenth century, and quoted in Walbran's " Visitors' 
Guide to Redear," after describing the song of the dead 
man's journey, as given in Aubrey, the writer adds : — " An 
other practice of theirs is more redyculous than the 
former, for when any maydes take the pottes off the fyer 
in great haste, she settes yt down, and without feare of 
burnings clappes her handes on the pot hookes to stay 
them from shakinge ; and this she doth for tender heart 
1 Notes and Queries, Dec. 16, 1871. 


believinge that our lady wepeth, or greelith, as they term 
yt all the while the pot hookes waggle, which were a 
lamentable case." 

Of course there is any amount of folklore about 
witches, and I here give the following, which appeared in 
the Gentleman's Magazine in 1759 : — 

" One Susanah Hannokes, an elderly woman of Win- 
grove, near Aylesbury, was accused by her neighbour of 
bewitching her spinning wheel, so that she could not 
make it go round, and offered to make oath of it before a 
magistrate; on which the husband, to justify his wife, in- 
sisted upon her being tried by the church Bible, and that 
the accuser should be present. Accordingly she was con- 
ducted to the parish church, where she was stripped of all 
her cloathes to her shift and undercoat, and weighed 
against the Bible ; when, to the no small mortification of 
her accuser, she outweighed it, and was honourably ac- 
quitted of the charge." 

Mr. S. J. Wills, from whom I have received many inter- 
esting and valuable notes relative to Cornish customs, has 
told me about a certain Mr. Jago, an eccentric clergyman, 
who was vicar of Wendron, in the latter part of the last 
century. This gentleman was supposed to exercise super- 
natural power, and the various stories related of him were 
firmly believed by the simple country folk. He was 
credited with the questionable art of laying spirits ; dis- 
covering thieves by magic, etc. It is said that when he 
alighted from his horse he would strike the ground with a 
whip, and a demon would instantly appear to take charge 
of the animal until he should want it again. Numerous 
stories are even yet circulated respecting his exploits. 

In the August number of the Newbery House Magazine 


1891, the Rev. H. J. Wilmot Buxton gave a few "Stray 
Notes from North Devon " bearing upon popular supersti- 
tions in that part of the country. He tells us that if the 
church clock strikes during the singing of a hymn in the 
service, it is believed that some one will die in the parish 
within the week, and that the same result will follow if 
the congregations of the Church, and of the dissenting 
place of worship meet outside. Once, he says, when an 
aged woman lingered long in dying, another old woman of 
the parish gravely assured the nurse that the spirit of the 
dying person could never go as long as the window was 
closed. I have already mentioned this idea. Belief in 
witches, ghosts, and evil spirits is not altogether extinct, 
though probably from fear of exciting ridicule is seldom 
openly spoken of. Still neighbours occasionally fall out 
because some old woman credited with the " evil eye " has 
•' overlooked " them, or perhaps has done the same un- 
neighbourly thing towards the cherished " peg," as they 
pronounce the word pig. There are persons still extant 
who add to their qualifications that of being " white 
witches," to whom the " overlooked " one goes for help and 
advice. It was at Bideford that the last execution for 
witchcraft in England took place in 1682. " Tilling,'' i.e. 
sowing parsley, is a task which a man undertakes very 
unwillingly ; it is notoriously an unlucky thing to do, and 
so he somewhat selfishly leaves it to his " missus." Some 
people dislike to have those fair spring blooms the daffodils, 
or Lent lilies, in their houses, and carefully exterminate all 
luckless kittens born in May, or they will, if preserved, 
bring snakes indoors. 

There are folks on Dartmoor who firmly believe in being 
" pixie-led." Without doubt there is a strong tincture of 
superstition in the nature of west country people. In 
a parish well known to the writer a man was annoyed by 
mysterious noises in his chimney night after night, and he 


became so frightened that he sent for the parson to ex- 
orcise the evil spirit ; but this was effectually done by a 
neighbour who set a trap, and caught a poor harmless owl 
whose snorings and hissings had troubled the uneasy con- 
science of the cottager. 


The Public Church Services performed in London at the 
beginning of the Eighteenth Century; as given in 
Paterson's " Pietas Londinensis." 

Aylesbury Chapel, St. John's Close — Wednesdays and 
holy days at 10 a.m. 

Alban, St., Wood Street and St. Olive, Cripplegate — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

All Saints, or Allhallows, Barking, Tower Street — Daily 
at 8 am. and 7 p.m. Holy Communion every Sunday at 

All Saints, or Allhallows, Bread Street, and St. John the 
Evangelist — Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, all holydays 
at 11 a.m. 

All Saints, or Allhallows the Great and the Less, Thames 
Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, holydays, and public days 
at 11 a.m. 

All Saints, or Allhallows, Lombard Street — Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

All Saints, or Allhallows, London Wall — Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

All Saints, or Allhallows, Staining Lane — Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Alphage, St., Cripplegate — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy- 
days, and public days at 11 a.m. 

Andrews, St., Holborn — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 and 



11 a.m., and 3 p.m. Holy Communion every Sunday at 12, 
and several occasions. Easter Day, 7 a.m. and 12. 

Andrew, St., Undershaft, or St. Mary at Axe — Daily; 
Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 and 11 a.m., and 6 p.m. 

Andrew, St., Wardrobe, and St. Anne's, Blackfriars — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, all holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Anne and Agnes, Sts. — Wednesdays, Fridays, all holy and 
public days at 11 a.m. Holy Communion three last Sundays 
in the month. 

Anne, St., Soho — Daily : Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 and 11 
a.m., and 4 and 6 p.m. Holy Communion, first and third 
Sundays, and Good Friday at 12 ; Christmas, Easter, 
Whitsunday at 7 a.m. and 12. 

Anthony or Antholine, St., Watling Street, and St. John 
Baptist — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 a.m. 

Augustine or Austin, St., Old Change — Wednesday, 
Friday, holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Bartholemew, St., the Great — Daily in the last week in 
the month at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Bartholemew, St., the Less — Daily at 11 a.m. 

Bartholemew, St., the Little, near the Royal Exchange — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, holydays, and public days at 11 a.m., 
and daily, 6 p.m. 

Berwick Street Chapel, Soho — Daily at 11 a.m. and 5 

Benedict, St., or St. Bennet Fink, Threadneedle Street — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Benedict or Bennet, St., Gracechurch Street — Wednes- 
days, Fridays, all holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Benedict or Bennet, St., and St. Peter, Paul's Wharf — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, and all holy and public days at 11 
a.m. ; Evening only on holydays and Saturdays at 3. 

Bloomsbury Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Holy 
Communion on the third Sunday in the month. 

Botolpb, St., Aldersgate — Daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. 


Botolph, St., Aldgate— Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 7 ; 
Winter, 8 p.m. ; Wednesday Evening always at 6. 

Botolph, St., Bishopsgate — Daily at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

Bridget or Brides, St., Fleet Street — Daily at 11 a.m. and 
8 p.m. 

Bridewell Chapel— Holy Communion on the third Sunday 
in the month. 

Charterhouse Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 5 ; 
Winter, 2 p.m. 

Christ Church, Newgate Street, and St. Leonards, Foster 
Lane — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 5 ; Winter, 3 p.m. 

Christ Church, Surrey — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

Christopher, St., Threadneedle Street — Daily at 6 a.m. and 
6 p.m. 

Clement Danes, St., Strand — Daily at 11 a.m., and 3 and 
8 p.m. ; Sundays, 3 and 7 p.m. Holy Communion every 
Sunday, besides other times. 

Clement, St., St. Clement's Lane, City — Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Dionyse, or Dionis, or Dionis Back Church, or St. Den- 
nis, or Dionysius the Areopagite — Daily ; Summer, 8 ; 
Winter, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Drapers' Almshouse Chapel, St. George's Fields — Daily ; 
Summer, 8 ; Winter, 9 a.m. 

N.B. — The Liturgy is not used in this chapel, but a form 
of prayer, because the foundation will not support a chap- 
lain. The inhabitants attend the Mother Church on Sun- 
days, and at some other times. There is another chapel at 
Newington Butts belonging to an almshouse built by the 
same founder, Mr. John Walter, citizen and draper. 

Duke Street Chapel, St. James' Park — Daily at 11 a.m. and 
4 p.m. Holy Communion every Sunday and holyday. 


Dunstan, St., in the East — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

Dunstan, St., Stepney —Daily at 11 a.m.; Summer, 6; 
Winter, 3 p.m. Holy Communion first and second Sundays 
in the month. 

Dunstan's, St., in the West — Daily at 7 a.m. and 3 p,m. ; 
•on Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and public days again at 11 
a.m. Holy Communion every Sunday and holyday at 12 ; 
every day for a week after Christmas, Easter, and Whit- 
sunday at 8 after morning prayers. 

Edmund, St., the King and Martyr, Lombard Street — 
Daily at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

Ely House Chapel (if the Bishop is resident) — Daily at 
■8 a.m. and 4 p.m. On Sundays, holy, and public days again 
at 11 a.m. 

Ethelburga or Ethelburgh, St., Bishopsgate Street — 
Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Fleet Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ; but on Sun- 
days and holydays at 10 a.m. Holy Communion, besides 
the usual times, before Michaelmas Term. 

George, St., Bloomsbury — Daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
Holy Communion every Sunday, Good Friday, New Year's 
Day, and other solemn days. 

George, St., Botolph Lane — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

George, St., the Martyr, Southwark — Wednesdays, Fridays, 
holy and public days at 10 a.m. 

Giles', St., Cripplegate — On Litany and holydays at 11 
.a.m. and 8 p.m. 

Giles', St., in the Fields — Daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. 
Holy Communion first and second Sundays in the month 
-after prayers at 7, and some other occasions. 

Gray Coat Hospital Chapel, Westminster — Daily at 7 
.a.m. and 6 p.m. 

Gray's Inn Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 5; Winter, 


3 p.m. Holy Communion twice a term, besides Christmas, 
Easter, and Whitsuntide. 

Helen, St., the Great, Bishopsgate Street— Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Hog Lane Chapel, Monmouth Street — Daily at 11 a.m. 

Horse Guards Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. 

Hoxton Hospital Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 5 ; 
Winter, 3 p.m. Holy Communion last Sunday in the 
month, and other solemn occasions. 

James, St., Clerkenwell — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Saturday 
only at 2 p.m. 

James, St., Chapel, or Chapel Koyal — Daily at 8 and 11 
a.m., and 5 p.m. 

N.B. — During her Majesty's absence only at 11 a.m. and 
5 p.m. Holy Communion twice every Sunday when the 
Queen is resident, otherwise, once. 

James, St., in Duke's Place, Aldgate — Wednesdays, Fri- 
days, and holydays at 11. Holy Communion, second Sun- 
day in the month. 

James, St, Thames Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

James, St., Westminster — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 
and 11 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m. Holy Communion, second Sun- 
day in the month ; every Sunday from Palm Sunday to 
Trinity Sunday, New Year's Day, and other great days, 

John, St., of Jerusalem, Hackney- — Wednesdays, Fridays, 
and holydays, at 11 a.m. 

John, St., Wapping — Daily ; Summer, 8 ; Winter, 9 a.m. 
Summer, 5 ; Winter, 3 p.m. 

Islington Almshouse Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

Katharine, St., Coleman — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 


Katharine, St., Cree — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days, at 10 a.m. On Saturdays, Summer, 4; Winter, 3 

Katharine, St., by the Tower — Daily, at 11 a.m. 

King Street Chapel, St. James' — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; 
Winter, 7 and 11 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m. Holy Communion 
last Sunday in the month. 

Lambeth Chapel — Daily ; Summer, 7 ; Winter, 8 and 12 
a.m., and 2 and 9 p.m. 

Lamb's Chapel, Hart Street, Cripplegate — Wednesdays 
and Fridays at 8 a.m. Holy Communion never admin- 

Laurence, St., Jewry — Daily at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. On 
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays again at 
11 a.m. On Thursday evening again, at 3 p.m. Holy 
Communion every Sunday at 8, except the first, then at 12. 

Leonard, St., Shoreditch — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy, and 
state days at 11 a.m. 

Lincoln Inn Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Holy 
Communion, Christmas, Easter, second Sunday in Septem- 
ber, and first and last Sunday of every term. 

London Workhouse Chapel, Bishopsgate Street — Daily 
at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

Ludgate Prison Chapel — Daily at 10 a.m. N.B. — Six- 
pence allowed each time. The most prudent layman reads 
if no clergyman is in prison. 

Magnus, St., London Bridge — Daily at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

Margaret, St., Lothbury — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

Margaret, St., Pattens — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

Margaret, St., Westminster — Fridays, holy and state days 
at 10 a.m. ; but daily, Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 p.m. 

Marshalsea, Chapel of — Wednesdays and Saturdays at 
3 p.m. 


Martin, St.— Daily ; Summer, C ; Winter, 7 a.m. and 5 
p.m. ; on Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays again at 10 
a.m. and 3 p.m. Holy Communion, first Sunday, Christmas 
Day, Easter, and Whitsunday, twice ; but the rest of the 
Sundays, New Year's Day, Good Friday, and Ascension 
Day, once. 

Martin, St., Ludgate — Daily at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

Martin, St., Dutewitch, or Otterwick — Wednesdays, Fri- 
days, and holydays at 11 a.m. 

Mary, St., Abchurch — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. Holydays and on Saturdays at 4 p.m. 

Mary, St., Alder manbury — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

Mary, St., Aldermary— Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

Mary, St., le Bow — Daily at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Holy 
Communion every holy day at 8 a.m. 

Mary, St., at Hill — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays 
at 11 a.m., and on Saturdays and holydays at 3 p.m. 

Mary, St., Islington — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays 
at 11 a.m., and on Saturdays and holydays at 3 p.m. 

Mary, St., Lambeth — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays 
at half-past 10 a.m. ; Saturday at 3 p.m. ; everyday in 
Lent at 11 a.m. Holy Communion, Ash Wednesday, Good 
Friday, and other solemnities, besides the regular. 

Mary Magdalene, St., Bermondsey — Daily at 11 a.m. 
Holy Communion twice on all holydays which fall on the 
1st Sunday, and Christmas Day, Easter Day, and Whitsun- 

Mary Magdalene, St., Old Fish Street— Wednesdays, Fri- 
days, and holydays at 11 a.m. ; and on Saturdays in Lent 
at 3 p.m. 

Mary, St., Newington Butts — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Mary, St., Rotherhithe — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 


days, and Saturdays before Communion at 11 a.m. Holy 
Communion, second Sunday. 

Mary, St., le Savoy — Daily ; Summer, 7 ; Winter, 8 a.m. 
and 5 p.m. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays again 
at 10 a.m. Holy Communion on 1st Sunday twice, 7 and 

Mary, St., Somerset — Holy and public days at 11 

Mary, St., Whitecbapel — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and 
public days at 11 a.m. ; Saturdays at 3 p.m. ; Holy Com- 
munion every Sunday, all holydays, Monday and Tuesday 
in Easter Week, Easter Day, Whitsunday, Good Friday,. 
Christmas day, and Ash Wednesday. 

Mary, St., Woolnoth — Daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Matthew, St., Friday Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy 
and public days at 10 a.m. Holy Communion 1st Sunday 
twice; on all holydays at 10. 

Michael, St., Basinghall — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and 
public days at 11 a.m. ; daily at 5 p.m. 

Michael, St., Cornhill— Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and 
public days at 11 a.m. 

Michael, St., Crooked Lane — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Michael, St. Queenhithe — -Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and 
public days at 11 a.m. Daily at 6 p.m. 

Michael, St., Royal — Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 
a.m. and 3 p.m. 

Michael, St., Wood Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

Mildred, St., Bread Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 

Mildred, St., Poultry — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

New Chapel, Westminster — Daily at 9 a.m., and 3, 4, 
and 5 p.m., as the days lengthen. 


Newgate Chapel — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holydays 
at 10 a.m. During the eight sessions daily, at 10 a.m. and 
3 p.m. 

Nicholas, St., Col eabby— "Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and 
state days at 11 a.m. 

Olave, St., Hart Street— Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy 
and state days at 11 a.m. Sundays in Lent at 3 

Olave, St., Jewry — Holy and public days, and on Wednes- 
day and Friday, from October to May, at 11 a.m. 

Olave, St., Southwark — Wednesday, Friday, and holy 
and public days at 11 a.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m. 

Oxenden Chapel, Haymarket — Daily at 10 a.m. No 

Palmer's, Mrs., Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. 
Paul's, St., Cathedral — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; Winter, 7 
and 11 a.m., and 3 p.m. Holy Communion every 

Paul's, St., Covent Garden — Daily ; Summer, 6 ; Winter, 
7 and 10 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m. Holy Communion, 1st and 
3rd Sundays in the month, and other occasions. 

Paul's, St., Shadwell — Daily at 11 a.m. ; Summer, 5, 
Winter, 3 p.m. 
Pest House Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. 
Peter, St., Cornhill — Daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Holy 
Communion every Sunday. 

Peter, St., Chapel, St. Peter's Hospital — Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and holydays. 

N.B. — The keeper of the hospital reads till means can be 
provided to support a minister. 

Peter, St., Poor, Broad Street — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. 


Peter, St., in the Tower — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. 

Peter, St., alias Westminster Abbey — Daily at Summer, 

6 ; Winter, 7 and 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. 

Poplar Chapel — Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 
11 a.m. Holy Communion third Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Prison of Queen's Bench Chapel — Daily at 7 p.m. 

Queen Square Chapel, Westminster— Daily at 11 a.m., 
and 4 p.m. in Winter ; only on Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays in the Summer ; but evenings always. 

Queen Street Great Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m- 
Holy Communion last Sunday in the month. 

Rolls Chapel— Holydays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Holy 
Communion seven times a year. 

Saviour, St., or St. Mary Overie, Southwark— Wednes- 
days, Fridays, holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Sepulchre, St., Snow Hill — Daily Summer, 6 ; Winter, 

7 a.m.; and Summer, 3 ; Winter, 4 p.m. On Wednesdays, 
Fridays, holy and public days again at 11 a.m. Holy 
Communion first Sunday, and every Sunday from Easter 
to Trinity. 

Skinner's Alms House Chapel, Mile End — Daily at 
11 a.m. 

Somerset House Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
Holy Communion third Sunday in the month. 

Stephen, St., Coleman Street — Daily at 11 a.m. Holy 
Communion every Sunday. 

Stephen, St. Walbrook — Daily at 11 a.m., and on Satur- 
days in Lent 4 p.m. 

Stratford-le-Bow — Wednesdays, Fridays, holy and state 
days at 11 a.m. 

Swithene, St., Cannon Street — Daily at 11 a.m. and 
5 p.m. 

Temple Church — Daily at 7, or 8, or 9 a.m. and 4> 



Thomas, St., Soufchwark — Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
holydays at 11 a.m. Holy Communion, second Sun- 

Thomas, St., Hospital Chapel— Daily at 3 p.m. 

Trinity Chapel, Bond Street— Daily at 11 a.m. and 
S p.m. Holy Communion third Sunday. 

Trinity in the Little Minories— Holy and public days, 
and in Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. 

Vedast, or St. Foster — Wednesdays, Fridays, and holy- 
days at 11 a.m. Evening daily at 6 p.m. 

Vintner's Alms-houses Chapel — Wednesdays, Fridays, 
holy and public days at 11 a.m. 

Whitehall Chapel — Daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Holy 
Communion privately every Sunday, but publicly on the 
first Sunday. 

It is well that the foregoing list should be compared with 
a record of " Daily Prayers in and about the City (1683)," 
quoted from a book of that date in No. 84 of the Tracts 
for the Times, by the Rev. Thomas Keble. 

King's Chapel 

Duke's Chapel 

Westminster Abbey 

Ely House 


Lincoln's Inn 

Gray's Inn 

St. James', Clerken- 

Charter House 


E. ! 











St. Christopher's 

St. Martin's 


St. Paul's, CoventGarden 

St. Martin's, Ludgate 

St. Diony's, Backchurch 

St. Andrew, Undershaft 

St. Antholin's ) 

St. Sepulchre's \ 

St. Mary, Woolnoth 






















Those who are interested in this question of Daily- 
Services in London churches, and would care to institute a 
comparison between the list given in " Pietas Londinensis," 
and the record which they will find in a book entitled 
" London Parishes," an account of the churches, vicars, 
vestries, etc., published in 1824, are advised to consult that 



In the year 1892 there appeared in the columns of the 
Standard newspaper a correspondence on the subject of 
odd Christian names, and the examples given are, in many 
instances, so extraordinary that they are well worth 
putting on record in a more permanent manner than would 
be the case if they were allowed to remain buried in a file 
of a daily paper. The fact that in most cases the corre- 
spondent gives his name and address, and his authoritj' for 
the statements which he makes, renders the information 
afforded by the several writers all the more valuable. The 
examples of out-of-the-way Christian names which have 
from time to time been given to infants at the font would 
seem to form no unimportant item in Church Folklore, and 
I believe that such a list as that below is quite unique. 

To begin with a letter from the Rev. A. L. Foulkes, 
Vicar of Steventon, Berkshire, dated April 4, 1892. Re- 
ferring to his parish registers, he says, that during the last 
five years or so, there has been a revival of floral names, 
which he attributes to the increased pains which have been 
taken in the church decorations at Easter and Whitsuntide. 

The vicar says : — ■ 

'' I have baptised since April, 1887, three ' Violets,' one 
' Lily Rose,' one ' Vera Rose ' (a unique beauty of a name), 
two 'Lilys,' one ' May,' one 'Ivy,' one ' Daisy ' ; and in 1886 
I notice three ' Roses,' and we have two ' Daisys ' and three 

3 2 4 


' Mays ' besides in our Sunday school. And, looking back 
over two or three decades in the register, I find plenty of 
Scriptural names. You may see the names : Jabez, Eber, 
Shadrach, Jeremiah, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Eli, Israel, Peter, 
Enoch, Levi, Caleb, Daniel, more than once since 1845, and 
many Jesses and Josephs, and last, but not least Biblical, 
Andrew Zacharias, and one whose parents must have 
thought of the ' lost tribes ' in the Hanoverian days — 
George Gad. 

" Amongst females, I find Grace, Patience, Ada, Thyrza, 
Mercy, Sebia (feminine of Seba), Constance, Christiana, 
Naomi. We have such names as Ambrose, Irene, Selina, 
Cyril, Inkerman, and Alma, during the same period. 
Speaking of Scriptural names, I knew a clergyman who 
refused to baptise in the mysterious name Melchisedek, but 
if I searched I might find even that. It is certainly to be 
noted that floral names have much increased in this parish 
during the last few years." 

A gentleman writing from East Dereham, Norfolk, states 
that : — " In this town there is an innkeeper who rejoices in 
the baptismal name of ' Mahershalalhashbaz ' (see Isaiah 
viii. 1). I should think this is unique. He is commonly 
called ' Maher,' but in the parochial and other lists the 
full name appears. 

" Report says (but I will not vouch for its truth) that 
his father wished him to be named ' Uz,' but on the clergy- 
man remonstrating he immediately said, ' Then we will 
have the other,' and produced from his pocket a slip of 
paper with the longer name." 

As to Scriptural names, it would, I think, be difficult to 
find another instance of a man who had been christened 
" Prophet Elijah " (Jaggard), yet Mr. F. N. Gray, writing 
from the Orlean's Club, Brighton, states that one of General 


Hall's gamekeepers at Six Mile Bottom was so named, and 
he was commonly addressed as " Prop. Jaggard " for short. 

The following is odd enough. " A vicar " writes : — " A 
few weeks ago, at the baptism of a baby, the names ' Azile - 
Pauline ' were given me. Not knowing or recognising the 
first name, I asked that it might be spelt. Not being much 
enlightened, but imagining it might be some French name 
to go with the second, which was pronounced with the 
French accent, I baptised the baby with those names. On 
asking the mother after the service where she had got the 
name from, she replied, ' Neither my husband nor myself 
likes the name Eliza, so we thought we would spell it 
backwards ! ' " 

Here, again, is one quite as odd in its way. The Rev. 
A. P. Wharton, Eector of Barham, tells us that " a person 
named Day christened a daughter ' Ann Easter Day,' and 
another, only two or three years ago, ' Constance Kent ' — 
Smith, we will say. Although I reminded the parents 
that this was the name of a convicted murderer, it caused 
no change. Indeed, I believe it was the reason for its 
choice. Certainly there is no accounting for tastes, especi- 
ally in names." 

There is something very touching in a baptismal name 
recorded by Mr. J. M. Cowper, who, with reference to the 
name " Ann ^Easter Day,'' states that, " At Kingsdown in 
Kent, on December 28, 1581, or 1582, was baptised 
' Inocent Day, the base borne sone of on (one) Day.' 
Before the year 1801 Easter is common as a variant of 

He gives another curious note as to the non-use in past 
time of the name "Alfred" in Kent — "I have searched," 


he says, "many parish registers, dating from 1538 to 1800, 
and over twelve thousand marriage allegations, extending 
from 1568 to 1635, and have never found an Alfred, unless 
I may consider Alured (Alured Denne) as the exception, 
but this is the Latin form shortened." 

Without explanation the following name would puzzle 
most people. I must take it for granted that it was a 
baptismal name, or rather the debased form of it. Dr. 
W. M. Young, dating from the Suffolk County Asylum, 
writes as follows : — " Some time ago a woman was ad- 
mitted into this asylum, duly certified under the name of 

' Protezay M .' I was so puzzled by the apparen tly 

cabalistic character of the Christian name, that I made 
inquiry of the friends who accompanied her as to its 
origin, and, in reply, they unfolded a strange, eventful 
history. During infancy she had been deserted by her 
mother, and had been found on the roadside by a man 

named M , who took her to his home and adopted her 

as his own. By way of ' a conceit which is pretty to see ' 
(as Mr. Pepys would have said), this man ever afterwards 
spoke of her as his protegee. M 's orthography, how- 
ever, was not on the same elevated plane as his etymology 
■ — hence ' Protezay.' " 

As in the case of " Cunazoa," already mentioned in the 
text, there is no reason to doubt as to the infant being 
baptised " Prote"ge'e." 

Equally puzzling is a name mentioned by a gentleman 
writing from Castle Acre, Norfolk, as having been given to 
a child in that parish, in years not very long past. F. G. 
If. tells us that — " A child (a girl) was brought for baptism 
to my grandfather. When asked the name, the parent, to 
his surprise, replied, ' Emdiella.' ' There is no such name,' 
said my grandfather. ' Oh, yes, sir, there is ; we saw it in 


a book,' replied the woman. My grandfather at the time 
did not like to inquire further, but it turned out that she 
had found in an old grammar the four liquid letters, 
L.M.N.E., and had confused them into M.D.L.R. The child 
was, however, christened ' Emdiella.' " 

The following example is a riddle indeed, and I must 
leave Mr. J. T. Squire of Keresford, Brunswick Road, 
Kingston Hill, who has given it to us, to interpret it him- 
self. He states that, '' In the parish registers of Wands- 
worth occurs the following entry of baptism: — '1689, 
October 28. Mickipheralphry, son of James Dandy, clerk, 
and Anne, his wife.' This peculiar name was brought 
under the notice of the members of the Surrey Archeeo- 
logical Society, who visited the church in 1889, but no 
explanation of it could then be given. By a mere acci- 
dent a solution, and satisfactory evidence of the correctness 
of it, was obtained under circumstances the relation of 
which would occupy too much of your space. 

" It is a compound of the names Mickipher (a corruption 
of Nicephorus) and Alphery, which pertained to one who 
was the heir to the throne of Russia, but who was sent to 
this country to escape assassination, and who became rector 
at Woolley, in Huntingdonshire, and was ejected at the 
Revolution. One of his sons resided at Hammersmith, and 
another followed the occupation of a smith at Wandsworth, 
and had a son, Mitchafer, baptised there on the 18th of 
August, 1661. The registers down to 1787 were tran- 
scribed by me and printed in 1889." 

'' Venus " is not exactly what one would choose for a 
Christian name, yet it is not unknown. Thus a gentleman 
who, I am sorry to say, only gives his initials, Gr. M. T, 
writes: — "In a country parish, of which my father was 
rector some twenty-five years ago, there was a child who 


rejoiced in the name of ' Venus.' I heard that when she 
was baptised the officiating clergyman remonstrated with 
the parents, on the ground that Venus was not a Christian 
name, but that of a heathen goddess. He was somewhat 
nonplussed, however, when reminded that the squire's wife 
was named Diana ! 

" In the same village two sisters (twins) were called 
Tryphena and Tryphosa, and Scriptural names had a de- 
cided preference — fully half the population were possessed 
of them. But in these times the taste for ' Ethel,' ' Percy,' 
■and the like, has penetrated even to that remote quarter." 

As regards this name of " Venus " a gentleman (J. E. C.) 
writes to say that, " In a Devonshire village church, some 
years ago, a male infant was presented for baptism, the 
sponsors naming it ' Vanus.' The clergyman protested 
that Venus was a heathen lady of doubtful reputation, and 
he refused to baptise the baby with such a name. 

" ' How could you think of such a name ? ' he asked. 
" Well, zur, us wants to earn (call) him after his grand- 
vather, and hers a called Vanus.' Subsequent investigation 
showed that the old man's name was Sylvanus, but all his 
life he had never been called anything but Vanus." 

He adds that, "The village schoolmistress of a generation 
back, who had the honour of increasing the family of 
Smith by sixteen, determined that all her children should 
have the initials ' S. S.' Perhaps, when she took this re- 
solution she hardly imagined she would have fifteen girls 
•and one boy to provide names for. However, she managed 
to carry out her idea successfully. I cannot at this 
moment recall all the ' S's,' but her eldest was Sarah and 
the youngest Sabina." 

Akin to this, a clergyman, who also unfortunately does 


not give his name, writes as follows : — " My curate had to- 
baptise twin sons of the surname of Otway ; the first was 
called "Orace 'Oratio,' and the other "Oratio 'Orace.' I 
knew a family whose surname began with H., and all the, 
fourteen children were to have three initial H.'s — so they 
included a ' Hagatha ' and a ' Horizontal.' " 

If any skilled antiquary were to spend a few days in 
searching the church books at Shoreditch, a number of 
curious facts might be discovered. The Rev. Frederick 
Cox, the vicar of St. Philip, Dalston, and who was formerly 
senior curate of Shoreditch parish church, gives some note- 
worthy examples of odd names which appear in the 
baptismal register there. He says : — " To give a few in- 
stances, Miss 'Juliet ' Burbage was baptised in 1608, in all 
probability the daughter of the great theatrical celebrity of 
that time. In the same year ' Desdemona ' Bishop was 
admitted within the fold of the Church ; in 1591, 'Troilus' 
Skinner and ' Coriolanus ' Hawke. In 1563, we find 
' Evangelist ' Hamerbon ; and in 1704, three children were 
named ' Faith, Hope, and Charity.' In the year 1589, we 
find Shakespeare's name associated with Burbage as one of 
the shareholders of the Blackfriars Theatre." 

The Rev. Turberville Evans, Vicar of Buckland, Dover,, 
and son of the late Vicar of Shoreditch, describes how, " As 
children we were often in Shoreditch vestry in my father's 
day. Our great delight was to turn to an entry in the 
baptismal register. It ran thus — 'Adelaide Louisa Theresa 
Thirza Amelia Maria Hughes.' Perhaps my friend Mr. 
Cox can supply the date. Can anyone interpret ' Mingaye 
Syder,' which occurs as a Christian name in our registers?"" 

We are indebted to Mr. John Hawkins, 22 Parliament 
Street, Westminster for the following item on baptismal 


folklore : — " The negro, in keeping with a strong passion 
for ' loud ' and flashy colours, is strangely enamoured of 
fine names. As an instance of this, a relative of mine, a 
clergyman in Demerara, was recently called upon to 
baptise the daughter of a well-to-do negro, but was 
astonished to find that the names selected by the fond 
father were ' Seriatim ' ' Ad Valorem.' 

"The reverend gentleman took the man to the vestry 
and remonstrated with him on the extraordinary appella- 
tions he desired to bestow upon his daughter, whereupon, 
with great reluctance, he consented to forego these high- 
sounding names which so charmed his ear, and eventually 
selected 'Drusilla Matilda.' The clergyman being unable 
to offer any valid reason against the latter choice, the child 
now rejoices in those names." 

Let us come back to England, and to English names, but 
not too suddenly. Mr. W. J. Humble Crofts, writing from 
Waldron, Sussex, tells us that, '' This parish boasts certain 
names which are possibly unique — 'Psalms,' for example. 
But we have also an ' English ' French, a ' Luther ' Martin, 
and ' Philadelphias ' galore, the prevalence of the latter 
arising from the fact that Philadelphia happens to be an 
old family name of the Hart Dykes, who for centuries 
have owned property here, and whose ancestresses stood as 
sponsors to the ancestresses of our present generation. 

" A neighbouring parish affords a crucial example of the 
love of the labouring classes for classical or sesquipedalian 
names. One of the villagers had his three children christ- 
ened 'Julius Ctesar,' 'Mark Anthony,' and 'Venus Pandora' 

Dr. Samuel Hague, of Camberwell, records an odd com- 
bination of Christian and surnames. In filling up an 
official document one day a patient gave him the sur- 


name of " Buxton." On being asked what his Christian 
name was, he replied " Truman Hanbury." 

Equally odd as a combination is that recorded by Mr. 
W. F. Coulson of West Brighton, who states " that at the 
Church of St. John the Evangelist, Waterloo Road, S.E., 
early in the present year, a child was christened 'Christmas.' 
The parents' surname was ' Carroll.' Christmas Carroll is, 
I should think, unique.'' 

Scriptural names of course are common, but I never be- 
fore heard of one mentioned by the Rev. T. Roach, who 
says that a few years ago he "published the banns of 
marriage of a woman named ' Talitha Cumi ' at St. Mary's, 
Ilchester, Somerset. He was told that it was a family 

Speaking of Scriptural names, many of us have wondered 
whether a child has ever been christened " Kerenhappuch," 
which it will be remembered was the name of one of Job's 
daughters. Mr. Owen Davies, a Wesleyan minister at 
Blackheath, settles the question, for he tells us that the 
wife of his verger bears that name. He further states that 
one of the members of his congregation was christened 
" Cobden Bright Villiers,'' and that he knew a gentleman 
whose three uncles were named respectively " Ulysses 
Achilles," " Telemachus Shakespear," and " Copernicus." 

The Rev. F. Case, Tudeley Vicarage, Kent, says that " all 
the following names occur in our registers. The child who 
was so unfortunate as to be named ' Cain ' was born only 
fifty-nine years ago. He had a brother named ' Abel.' 
Males : — Maher, Lanzil, Josephus, Fane, Covel, Cain, Gurth, 
Immanuel John, Mahershalalhashbaz. Females : — Filley, 
Vinefrit, Virnfid, Barbary, Valentina, Prince, Agnester, 


Olife, Julan, Christian, Sibyll, Easter, Brigget, Eunice, 

A friend tells me that in the church register of 
Scampton, Lincolnshire, about the year 1630, an entry 
occurs of the baptism of a girl named Linenia. Possibly 
flax may have been cultivated in the parish at that date. 

It must surely be an uncommon thing to christen girls 
with boys' names, yet it is not altogether unknown. The 
Gentleman's Magazine of January, 1742, contains, amongst 
other announcements, the following : — " Lady of the de- 
ceased Alexander Nairn of a posthumous son. Had three 
daughters in 1740, christened James Agnes, Charles Amelia, 
Henry Margaret, all (in 1742) in good health." 

Some odd combinations of Christian surnames have 
already been given, but an instance mentioned by Mr. E. 
Bruce, of Uckfield, Sussex, is especially remarkable. He 
says, " I have seen a good many curious names under the 
above heading, but none so curious as that owned by a 
child of a woman who was once my nurse. The surname 
was Waters, and the mother christened the child (a girl), 
Mineral. I believe ' Mineral Waters ' is living, and is now 
about seventeen years old." 

Unfortunately, an M. R. C. S. does not give the name of 
the parish to which he refers, when he says " that in the 
churchyard of the place where I first saw the light a tomb- 
stone announces the fact of the death of twins named 
'Punch' and 'Judy.'" 

The Vicar of Glossop notes that, " During the year 1887, 
I baptised a child at St. Mary's Church, Widnes, to whom 


the name Jubilata was given, because she was born in the 
year of the Queen's Jubilee." 

The Rev. Joseph Hargrove, of St. Matthews, Cam- 
bridge, remarks that although " Albert " is common enough, 
" Victoria " as a Christian name is almost unknown. He 
says, " In an experience of more than twenty years I cannot 
remember ever to have baptised a child by that name, or 
even to have met with anybody bearing it. Even in the 
Jubilee year, when loyalty ruled the thoughts of all, the 
name occurs only three times among two hundred and 
eight children baptised in this parish (in each case coupled 
with another name), and since then it has only appeared 
once among seven hundred and twenty- three baptisms. 
That the name of so popular a Queen, and of one who has 
reigned so long, should never have been able to displace in 
popular favour the names of former queens — Elizabeth, 
Mary, Anne — has always seemed to me a very remarkable 
instance of the tenacity with which the English people 
cling to old customs." 

We now come to consider instances in which the names 
of flowers have been given to children at the font. " It 
was my good fortune recently," writes Mr. Philip Bartlett 
of Christ Church, Lancaster, " on a railway journey, to 
make the acquaintance of a perfect nosegay of children, all 
members of one family, and all justifying the sweetness of 
the names that had been given them — Daisy, May, Lily, 
Violet, and Olive. There had also been a sixth, Pansy, but 
she, I was informed, had been transplanted to a better and 
brighter garden than any on earth. 

" There is, I may mention, a strong prejudice existing in 
some minds against naming children after flowers, on the 
ground that children so called are supposed, like flowers, to 


be short lived. I hope my little travelling companions 
may, at any rate, belie the superstition. 

" In addition to the other ethical names enumerated by 
your correspondents, I have baptised a child Repentance, 
who has proved one never to be repented of." 

The name of the Bishop of Melbourne, Dr. Field Flowers 
Goe, will at once suggest itself to church folk in connection 
with floral names. In answer to the question, " Could we 
not find Myrtle and Rose Mary ? " Mrs. or Miss Mary 
Flowers writes from Louth to say, " I have a cousin called 
Rose Mary, whose surname is Flowers. Her great-grand- 
father's name was Field Flowers." 

Writing from Brancaster, Norfolk, Mr. C. G. R. Birch 
says, " I have baptised, on April 22, 1888, a ' Myrtle Rose ' 
— unique, I believe ; also, on February 7 of the present year, 
a 'Daisy Rhoda,' and on September 27, 1885, a 'Lilian 
May' Indeed, Lilian, May, and Daisy, singly or in con- 
junction with something else, are now as common as pos- 
sible here." 

The following communication brings to light a very out- 
of-the-way name. "I have," says H. E. G., "a dear 
young friend somewhere in this country who (about eleven 
years ago) was christened Erica. ' Only that, and nothing 
more.' Her parents, it was rumoured, had plighted their 
troth ' Out in the sunshine over the heather.' Perhaps 
other instances may be quoted." 

On the authority of Mr. A. C. Downer, St. Cuthbert's, 
Bedford, I am able to give the following : — " An infant was, 
twenty years ago, presented to me for baptism in an 
Oxford church, under the name ' Virgo Maria.' The god- 
parents were ignorant of the meaning of the words, but 


the mother, on being asked where they had obtained the 
name, replied, ' You see, sir, my husband is a gardener, and 
there is a geranium named " Virgo Maria," so we thought it 
would be a nice name for our little girl.' 

" So ' Virgo Maria ' must be added to the list of floral 
names. Could we not also find 'Myrtle ' and ' Rose Mary' ? 
' Basil ' is a boy's name. What of ' Flora,' goddess of 
flowers ? The growing disuse of ' Jane ' is much to be re- 

A gentleman who does not give his name writes to say 
that he lias a daughter whose names are " Violet Lily Rose." 
Another states that in 1887 he baptised the infant daughter 
of a Mr. Rose under the name " Violet." But these com- 
binations are sometimes risky unless chosen with care, with 
a due regard to future possibilities. For instance, a Croydon 
correspondent tells us of a Miss Rose who was christened 
" Wild." For a time all went well, and " Wild Rose " was 
pretty enough, albeit somewhat sentimental. But young 
ladies as they grow up are apt to fall in love, and " Wild 
Rose" on her marriage changed her name to "Wild Bull." 

I gave above an instance of three girls being christened 
with boys' names. Mr. H. F. Spencer, writing from Oxford> 
says that in a rural parish he remembers a young man who 
was called " Rose," his surname being " Cherry." The 
writer adds, "Hyacinth is sometimes, and Florence often 
given in England to girls, but in Ireland to boys." " Allow 
me," he says, "to quote from the 'Parish Register' of Crabbe, 
who, though a poet, observed more than he invented : — 

" ' ' Why Lonicera wilt thou name thy child ? ' 
I asked the Gardener's wife, in accents mild : 
' We have a right,' replied the sturdy dame ; — 
And Lonicera was the infant's name. 
If next a son shall yield our Gardener joy, 
Then Hyacinthus shall be that fair boy ; 
And if a girl, they will at length agree 
That Belladonna that fair maid shall be.' 


Thus much for distinctly baptismal names, but there are 
some very odd ones to be found in the official register of 
births, which may or may not have been actually used at 
baptism. The correspondent who gives the following list 
begins by an interesting record of the comparative popu- 
larity of ordinary christian names, and he takes the great 
family of Smiths. In one quarter's index he finds as 
follows : — 

" Elizabeth, 69 instances; George, 95; John, 125; Mary, 
80 ; Sarah, 41 ; William, 130 ; and of the more modern 
names (that is, modern as to fashion), Albert, 61 ; Arthur, 
49; Edith, 57; Ethel, 51; Florence, 69; Frederick, 53. 
Scripture names occurring are Absalom, Archelaus, Asher, 
Enoch, Ephraim, Miriam, Moses, etc. While as to floral 
names there are — Daisy, 14; Erica, Iris, Ivy, 4; Lily, 20; 
Olive, 6 ; Rose, 13 ; Violet, 9. The writer of your article 
suggests that the names of common English flowers are not 
well adapted for personal names ; doubtless that is so, and 
yet I have met with Hollyhock, Lavender, Dahlia (not in- 
frequently), and others of the like. 

" Your article does not deal with eccentricity of naming, 
which affords a fruitful field for speculation as to the state 
of mind of persons who could give their children such names 
as, e.g., ' Boadicea ' Basher, ' Ethereal ' Messenger ' Anno 
Domini ' Davies, ' Liberal Heneage ' Brown, ' Sardine ' Shaw, 
'Ether' Spray, 'Rose Shamrock' Anthistle, 'Smith Follows' 
Smith. Surely there should be a society formed to ' prevent 
cruelty in naming children.' " 

A gentleman writing from the " General Register Office," 
sends the following curious names or combinations of 
names (the last name is always the surname) : — 

" Morning Dew, Evening Dew, Winter Frost, Merry 
Christmas, Flower Apark, Manifold Light, Ruby Gore, Mid- 


summer Frost, Orange Lemmon, Hailstone Pretty, Anglo- 
Saxon Joy, River Jordan, Cloud Hill, Happy Ephraim 
Jiggins, Happy Riches, Tamer Duck, Jubilee Gosling, John 
Hadnot Kiss, Just King, Nappy Igo, Holly Bush, Holley 
Bower, Charity Greedy, Offspring Dear, Gilderoy Scamp, 
Only Fancy William Brown, Jennyfer Penny, Colonel 
Sargeant, Sarah Alley Lunn, Hay Stack Brown, Hay Field, 
Noah Flood (a shipwright), Greenwood Woodman, Vernal 
Greenwood, Robert Alma Balakclava Inkerman Sebastopol 
Delhi Dugdale, and last and longest, Anna Bertha Cecilia 
Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Inez Jane Kate 
Louisa Maud Nora Ophelia Quince Rebecca Starkey Teresa 
Ulysis Venus Winifred Xenophon Yetty Zeus Pepper. 

" These are all absolutely faithful copies of authentic 
names, without omission or alteration of any kind. The list 
could be indefinitely extended, but probably here are 

Here is another list from the records of the same office, 
concerning which the writer implies that it would be diffi- 
cult to say whether they are to be attributed to the vanity, 
the ignorance, or the heartless cruelty of the parents who 
fixed upon them. This gentleman says : — 

" I will give the years in which they have been met with, 
and I find, to make a start, a girl registered in 1847, 'Is it 
Maria;' 1853, ' Napoleon the Great ; ' 1857, 'Robert Alma 
Balakclava Inkerman Sebastopol Delhi;' 1860, 'Arthur 
Wellesley Wellington Waterloo;' 1861, 'Not Wanted James;' 
1863, ' Jerome Napoleon Edward Henry John ' (this an ille- 
gitimate child born in a workhouse) ; 1865, ' Edward Byng 
Tallyho Forward ; ' 1870, ' One Too Many ; ' 1877, ' Peter the 
Great,' and ' William the Conqueror,' twins ; 1883, ' Richard 
Coeur de Lion Tyler Walter ; ' 1886, 'That's it who'd have 
thought it ; ' 1887, ' Laughing Waters.' 


" Some remarkable single names are to be met with, such 
as ' Righteous,' ' Comfort,' ' Happy,' ' Electro,' ' Hopeful,' 
' Redemption,' ' Meditation,' ' Obedience,' and ' Alphabet.' 
Twins, ' Love ' and ' Unity,' are to be found, and besides 
' Faith,' ' Hope,' and ' Charity ' as triplets, there are ' Sha- 
drach,' ' Meshach,' and ' Abednego,' boys, and two boys and 
a girl, ' Alpha,' ' Beatrice,' and ' Omega.' " 

When I add that one of the latest combinations in this 
list is " Gladiolus Azalea," and that many children born of 
late years on April 19, have been named " Primrose," I have 
exhausted my stock of information, which I venture to 
think is curious enough to justify me in putting it upon 
more or less permanent record. 



Advent Images, 216 

— Sunday, 216 
Affusion, Trine, 75 
Aisle and Alley, 14 
Ales, Bride, 7 

— Church, 4 

— Clerk, 6 

Alley and Aisle, 14 
Altar, Bowing to, 32 

— in Channel Islands, 65 

■ — Communicants Bowing to, 34 

— Pieces, 205 

— Plate, 64 

• — Servers at, 66 

American Church in Paris, 51 

Andrewes, Bishop, a Monthly Communicant, 5 

Anthem Sung from Organ Loft, 203 

Archpriest, his Privileges, 182 

Arval Bread, 130 

Ascension Day, Water connected with, 250 

— at Tissington, 283 

— Rain, 207 

■ — at Penrhyn, 298 

Ascription after Sermon, Kneeling at, 41 

Baal Worship, 20, 290 
Babbling, 17 
Band in Church, 254 
Banns of Marriage, 91 

— Meaning of, 92 

— Congratulatory words when published, 92 

— Marriage, disliked by, 93 
Baptism, First Water at, 74 

— by Immersion, 80 

— in Rivers, 82 

— Holy Well Water for, 279 

— Private, 82 

■ — over Coffin of Dead Mother, 79 

— Stamp Duty on Registering, 83 

— of Blackamoors, 84 
Baptismal Fees,_ 83 

— Custom, Curious, 77 
Baptised Child, Offerings to, 78 
Bell on Screen, 211 

— Passing, 121 

— Sanctus, 69 
Bequests to Poor, 138 

Bible and Key Divination, 298 
Bibles, Dice Cast for in Church, 10 
Bidding Letters to Marriage, 95 

— to Paris Funeral, 132 
Bishop, Boy, 7 

Bishop's Charges about Daily Prayers, 42 

— on Infrequent Celebrations, 55 
Books Chained in Churches, 206 
Bounds, Beating the, 245 
Bowing at Holy Name, 39 

— to Altar, 32 

— to Coffin, 129 
Boy-Bishop, 7 
Branks, 213 
Bride Ales, 7 

— Kissing the, too 
Bridegrooms, Hiring, 113 
Burial in White Dress, 143 

— in Flannel, 144 

Burial in Flowers, 145 

— Garlands, 167 

— Wesleyan Usage at, 129 

— of Suicides, 157 

— Superstition as to times of, 140 

— Fees formerly Simoniacal, 138 
Burials on North Side of Church, 153 

— by Immersion, 152 

— Erect, 150 

— Uncoffined, 147 

— by Torchlight, 145 

Carling Sunday, 233 
Carols, 259 

— Christmas, 218 

Cathedrals, Naves of, Fashionable Walks, 3 
Candles at Funerals, 146 
Canongate Marriages, 114 
Cardinals in St. Paul's, 183 
Catechising, Bishops on, 88 

— at Eton, 89 

Celebrations, Daily, intended, 53 
Celebration, Early, 61 

— Early, on Easter Day, 241 

— Quarterly, 53 

— Frequency of, 54, 59 

— First Daily, in modern times, 61 
Chalice, the Mixed, 69 
Channel Islands, Altars in, 65 
Chaplains, Gaol, 189 

Chasuble and Cope, 56 

Children, Unbaptised, Burial of, 143 

Choir Boys formally Installed, 258 

— Blessed by Bishop, 259 
Choirs, Surpliced, 258 

Chorister Boys Blessed by Bishop. 73 

— at Celebration, 73 

Christian Names, Odd, 76, and Appendix ii. 
Christmas, Early Service at, 222 
Christening Cap Worn First Night, 77 
Christening Ornaments, 78 

— Palm, 78 
Church Ales, 4 

— Hats Worn in, 49 

— Clipping the, 18 

— Decking the, 266 

— Flapping the, 17 

— Music Debased, 256 

— Naves Open Spaces, 12 

— Nomination of Candidate for Parliament in, 


— Place in, for Marriage, 97 

— Porch, Uses of, 24 

— Private Prayer on entering, 36 

— Refreshments brought into, 17 
Churches, Secular Use of, 2 

— Separation of Sexes in, 24 

— Irreverence in, 1 

— Decoration of, 226 

— Blasphemous Plays in, 9 
Churched, Dress of Women when, 86 
Churching of Women, 84 

— Name for, in Devon, 87 

— Odd idea relating to, 87 

— Pew, 87 

— Place for, 86 

34 1 



Churchings, Register of, 88 
Churchwardens, Duties of, 192 

— Women as, 153 

Churchyard, Hats removed on entering, 41 

— Dancing in, 19 

— Cross, Bowing to, 21 

Cirencester, Nomination of Candidate for Par- 
liament in Church, 10 
Clergy, Respect for, in North, 179 

— Refreshment for, 185 

— Standing at Entrance of, 41 

— Social Status of, 183 
Clerical Duty, Payment for, 184 

— M.P,'s, 189 

— Neglect, 188 
Clerics, Political, 190 
Clerk Ales, 6, 195 
Clipping the Church, 18 
Coffins, 146 

Coffin, a Parish, 148 

— Borne on Napkins, 127 
— ■ Bowing to, 129 

— Bumping the, 129 

— Lifting the, 133 

— Nails of, Loosened, 159 

— Resting Stones for, 130 

— not mentioned in Burial Service, 148 
Coiet, Dean, 8 

Cope and Chasuble, 56 
Cornish Holy Wells, 269 
Cornwall, Heathen Sacrifices in, 291 
Communicants Bowing to Altar, 34 

— Giving in Names, 57 

— Tokens, 73 
Communion Customs, 62 

— taken Fasting, 57 

— of Sexes separately, 62 

— Whole Congregation receiving, 64 

— " Under the Gallows," 63 

— Service, Men Standing during, 66 

— Service, Kneeling through, 64 
Congregation, Refreshment for, 186 
Consecration, Singing before and after, 69 
Courts, Ecclesiastical, in Churches, 3 
Creed, Turning to East at, 18 

Cross, Bowing to Churchyard, 41 
Curates Saying the Prayers, 46 
Cure for Consumption, 303 

— for Shingles, 305 

— for Sores, 301 

— for Whooping Cough, 301 
Customs, All Souls' Day, 253 

— Ascension Day, 249 

— Candlemas, 226 

— Christmastide, 220 
— -Circumcision. 2*4 

— Easter Day, 240 

— Epiphany, 225 

— Good Friday, 237 

— Holy Innocent's Day, 224 

— Lenten, 231 

— May Day, 243 

— Maundy Thursday, 235 

— Palm Sunday, 233 

— Rogationtide, 244 

— St. Andrew's Day, 215 

— St. Clement's Day, 253 

— St. Crispin's Day, 252 

— St. Paul's Day, 226 

— St. Stephen's Day, 253 

— St. Thomas's Day, 217 

— Shrove Tuesday, 227 

— Trinity Sunday, 252 

Customs, Whitsuntide, 250 

Daily Celebrations intended, 53 

— Prayers, 42 

— Prayers, Bishops Charges about, 42 
Dancing in Churchyard in Wales, 19 

— Circular, 20 
Dean Colet, 8 

Death Agony, supposed relief during, 308 

— a Protracted Process, 136 

— Unfastening Doors before, 134 

— Jews run off the Water on occasion of, 135. 
Desecration of Sunday, 5 

Devon, Heathen Sacrifices in, 285 

— North, Odd Ideas in, 310 
Dining with Duke Humphrey, 2 
Dissenters Communicating in Church, 70 
Divination by Bible and Key, 208 

— by Candles, 294 

Dog Pew at Northope, 15 

— Tongs, 198 

— Whippers, 197 

— Whipper, Endowment for, 199 
Dogs at Mass, 15 

Doleing Day, 218 

Dow Purse, 100 

Duke Humphrey, Dining with, 2 

Durham, Thoroughfares across Nave, 3 

Duty, Clerical Remuneration for, 184 

Dying Child screened from Parents gaze, 135, 

Eagles for Epistle and Gospel, 205 
East, Turning to, at Creed, 38 

— Turning to, at Gloria, 40 
Easter, Food Gifts at, 241 

— Heaving at, 242 
Eastward Position, 65 
Ecclesiastical Courts in Churches, 3 
Elizabeth Checked Distillation, 50 
Espousals, 115 

Eton Montem, 8 
Eucharistic Superstitions, 299 
Eye, the Evil, 310 
Exorcism, 310 

Fasting Communion, 57 

— Dispensation from, 230 
Fast and Festivals, Nelson's, 45 
Fees (or Baptism, 83 

Flagon, a Huge, 64 
Flannel, Burial in, 144 
Fleet Marriages, 112 
Flapping the Church, 17 
Frith Stool, 22 
Fonts, Position of, 203 

— Basins in, 204 

— Removal of, 203 

Funeral, Bellman announces, 131 

— Bidding Letters, 131 

— Breakfast, 129 

— Cakes, 130 

— in Cumberland and Westmoreland, 160 

— Derivation of the word, 134 

— Dinners, 131 

— Freemasons, 169 

— Offerings Collected on Sexton's Spade, 13K 
Disposal of, 138 

— Offertory, 137 

— Singing at, 130 

in Sixteenth Century, 155 
Subscription for, 150 

— to go way of Sun, 136 
Bidding Rounds at, 131 



Funeral, Parisian Bidding Letters at, 132 

— Box carried at, 169 

— Children's, in Cornwall, 126 

— Choral, 119 

— Curious, Custom at Swansea, 143 

— Dole at, 131 

— Garb Worn at, 124 

— of the " Quality" last Century, 157 

— Scarves at, 125 

— Workhouse, 125 

Gadwhip, the Caistor, 233 

Gaol Chaplains, 190 

Geddington, Pew at, 14 

Gloria in Excelsis Sung on Festivals, 72 

— Reverence made at, 34 

— Turning to East at, 40 

Good Friday, Black Vestments on, 239 

— Fasting on, 239 

— Marble Playirg on, 240 
Gospel Read from Chancel Step, 66 
Graves, Filling up, 157-158 

— Brick, Whitewashed, 127 

— Dressing, 170 

— Evergreens stuck over, 169 

— Facing North and South, 154 

— Plastered Inside, 126 

— Things put into, 141 

— White Stones in, 150 

Gravestone at Alton dated " Old Style,'' 165 

Hats Worn in Church, 49 

Heathen Sacrifices, 285 

Holy Name, Bowing at, 39 

Hot Pots after Marriage Service, 103 

Hour-Glass in Pulpit, 208 

Houselling Cloth, 70 

Coloured, 72 

Humphrey, Dining with Duke, 2 
Hymns added to '"Singing Psalms," 49 

— "Authorised," 48 

Idolatry in Ireland, 288 

— in Wales, 288 
Ignorance, Popular, 293 
Images, Respect for, 36 
Immersion, Baptism by, 80 

— Canon Cadman's Description of an, 81 

— Wells in Churches for, 80 
Infant Born with Hands Open, 74 

— Males first Baptised, 76 

— must Cry when Baptised, 75 

— Offerings to, 75 

— Oatcake Sewn in Clothes of, 74 

— Plunged in Cold Water, 74 

— Received into the Church, 75 
Infrequency of Celebrations Condemned, 55 
Innocent's Day, Gloomy idea of, 224 
Ireland, Idolatry in, 288 

Irreverence in Church, 1 

— Henry VIII. tried to Stop, 4 

— Condemned by Essayists, 50 

Kettle, Mother Ludlam's, 214 
King's Evil, Touching for, 303 
King's Touch, Service for, 304 
Kiss, the Parting, 148 
Kissing the Bride, 101 
Kneeling during Psalm cl., 38 

Lay Readers, 1S9 

Lent, Laws respecting, 229 

— Observances of, 45 

Licence, Marriage of Poor by, 116 

Lord's Prayer, Standing when Read in Lesson, 

Ludlam's, Mother, Kettle, 214 

Machyn's Diary, 120 

Marriage, Arrangement of Altar at, 107 

— Banns of, 91 

— Bible given at, 108 

— Bidding Letters to, 94 

— Bidding Letters in Paris, 96 

— Breach of Promise of, 115 

— Ceremony, Odd, 102 

— Curious Rite in Scotland, 109 

— Customs, 90 

— An Odd Custom relating to, 101 

— Form of Anathema at, 106 

— Local Usages after, 104 

— Parents do not attend, 103 

— Place in Church for, 97 

— of Poor by Licence, 116 

— Portions of Brides published, no 

— Purse put on Book at, gg 

— Questions in, answered in low voice, 106 

— Register Signed with Cross, 103 

— Seasons when Prohibited, 90 

— Service, Hot Pots after, 103 

— Service, Joy Wishing in, 93 

— in the Smock, in 

— Special Church Doors for Entrance and Exit 

at, 107 

— Strange Scottish Custom, 109 

— Taxes on, 118 

— Walk round Village after, 107 

— Wheat thrown over Couple after, 108 

— Canongate, 114 

— Fleet, 112 

— May Fair, 114 

— Savoy, 114 

Married, Persons very much, no 

May Day Fires, 289 

May Fair Marriages, 114 

Mayor, Standing at Official Entrance of, 41 

Misletoe, 219 

Mixed Chalice, the, 69 

Morgengabe, 100 

Mothering Sunday, 231 

Music, Church, 254 

Naves of Cathedrals Fashionable Walks, 3 

— of Churches Open Spaces, 12 
Neglect, Clerical, 188 
Nelson's Fasts and Festivals, 45 
New Year, Uslaering in the, 224 
Non-Communicating Attendance, 62 
Notices in Church, 194 

Norwich, Cathedral Nave Fashionable Walk, 3. 

Offerings to Holy Wells, 279 
Offertory, Collection at, 67 

— Mode of Counting, 68 
Organs, Barrel, in Church, 256 

— Movable, 206 

Pall, Pauper, 146 

— Funeral, 158 
Parish Clerks, 194 

— Women as, 195 
Passing Bell, 121 

— — Charge for, 124 

Paul's, St., Fewness of Communicants, 56 

— Walk, 1, 215 
Pauper Pall, 146 



Peculiars, 190 

Penance, Legal Aspect of, 173 

— Prayer Book View of, 173 
Penances, Form of, 177 

— Instances of, 175 

— Recent, 178 
Penny Weddings, T15 
Pew for Churching, 87 

— Dog, at Northope, 15 

— at Geddington, 14 

— Library, 203 
Pews, 201 

— Appropriation of, 13 

— Bishop Corbet Condemned, 16 

— Dean Swift on, 15 

— Election for, 203 

— Episcopal Objections to, 12 

— Luxuriousness of, 16 

— Pre-Reformation, 11 

— Squabbles about, n 
Pictures, Sacred, Respect for, 36 
Pietas Londonensis, 44 

Pixies, 310 

Plate, Altar, 64 

Plays, Blasphemous, in Churches, 9 

Pluralities, 186 

Porch, Church, Uses of, 24 

Prayers, Daily, 42 

— Private, on Entering Church, 36 

— Relegated to Curates, 46 
Preacher, Watch for, 260 
Pre-Reformation Hat-Wearing in Church, 50 
Priest and Parson, 180 

— a Spirit-laving, 309 

— Word used in North, 179 
Principle of Vestments Retained, 56 
Private Baptism, 82 

■ — Prayer on entering Church, 36 

Psalms, Old and New Versions, 47 

Pulpit, Hour-Glass in, 208 

■ — Movable, 206 

Puritan Conscience, Elasticity of, 124 

Puritan's Obscene Ballads, 9 

Quakers, Penance by, 177 

Rector, Lord, 181 
Register of Churchings, 88 
Relics in Churches, 213 
Reverence made at Gloria, 34, 38, 39 
Rush Bearing, Description of, 265 
Rushes, Employment of, 264 

St. Paul's School, 8 
Sabbath and Sunday, 6 
Sacrament Shilling, the, 300 
Sacrifices, Heathen, 285 
Sanctuary, Abolition of, 23 

— Places so privileged, 22 
■ — Privilege of, 22 
Sanctus Bell, 69 

St. Saviour's, Southwark, Consistory Court 

held in, 4 
Savoy Marriages, 114 
Scarves at Funerals, 125 
Scold's Bridle, 213 
Scotland, Baal Worship in, 288 

— Heathen Sacrifices in, 287 
Screens, Post-Reformation, 205 

Seasons when Marriage Prohibited, 90 

Secular Use of Churches, 2 

Sermon, Men Standing during, 67 

Servers at Altar, 66 

Services, Week-Day ; 45 

Separation of Sexes in Church, 26 

Sexes Communicating Separately, 63 

Sextons, 196 

Shrove Tuesday, Names given to, 527 

Simnel Cakes, 231 

Sin-Eater, 140 

Singers, Position of, 202 

" Singing Psalms," the, 46 

— Given out line by line, 48 

— Turning to "West Gallery at, 40 
Sleepers in Church, 200 
Souling, 253 

Sternhold and Hopkins, 46 
Stocks in Church Porch, 213 

— Finger, 212 

Stool, Jenny Geddes and her, 13 
Stools, Portable, in Churches, 13 
Strikes and the Clergy, 179 
Suicides, Burial of, 154 
Sunday Desecration, 5 

— and Sabbath, 6 

Tate and Brady, 46 

Tax, Window, 212 

Te Deum, Courtesy made in course of, 38 

Tewkesbury Church, Laud forbad Courts in, 4 

Tisslngton, Well Dressing at, 281 

Tithe, Child, 75 

Titles, Clerical, 181 

Tomb, Curious, at Wimborne, 164 

— Erroneous Inscription on, 166 
Trine Affusion, 75 

! Vcnite, Kneeling in course of, 37 
1 Vestments, the, 56 
! — Principle of the, 57 
Voluntaries, 257 

Wakes, 159, 297 
Wales, Idolatry in, 288 

— Superstition in, 297 
Wassail Cup, 217 
Weather Fdrecasts, 226 
Wedding, a Dry-Lipped, 101 

— Penny, 115 
Well Dressing, 281 

— of St. Winifred, 274 
Wells, Holy, in Cornwall, 269 

in Lancashire, 276 

in London, 274 

in Scotland, 278 

Offerings to, 277 

— Superstitions about, 280 
Westminster Abbey, Secular Use of, 3 
Whooping Cough, Cure for, 301 

William HI. encouraged Spirit Drinking, 50 
Winding Sheet, 146 
Witchcraft, Detection of, 309 
Women, Churching of, 84 

— Dress of, when Churched, 86 
Worship, Outward Acts of, 39 

York Minster, Privilege of Vavasours, 3 

Nave, Fashionable Walk, 3 

Yule Log, 219 

Printed by Cowan & Co., Limited, Perth. 


Ey the late Kev. Dr. LITTLEDALE and the Eev. J. EDWAEB VAUX. 

Seventh Edition. Sixteenth Thousand. 



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